Class Book CopyrigME?. A GBHRIGHT DEPOSED MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN SKETCHES BY JULIA M. ALEXANDER THE OBSERVER PRINTING HOUSE, INC. CHARLOTTE, N. C. 1916 •; IP COPYRIGHT 1916 By JULIA M. ALEXANDER iC JAN 30 1917 'CI.A455372 TO MOTHERS OF EVERY TIME AND NATION WHO HAVE TRAINED THEIR SONS TO SERVE WELL, GOD, AND THEIR COUNTRY THIS BOOK IS REVERENTLY INSCRIBED CONTENTS PAGE I Mary Ball Washington, Mother of George Washington II II Margaret Cox Ruskin, Mother of John Ruskin 37 III Margaret Aitken Carlyle, Mother of Thomas Carlyle : 6j IV Susanna Annesley Wesley, Mother of John and Charles Wesley 131 V Monica, Mother of Saint Augustine 147 VI Glimpses of the Mothers of Many Great Men 165 I FOREWORD N THE Capitoline Museum, at Rome, there may be seen the fragment of a statue, of which only the base remains, and thereon the inscription, "CORNELIA, MOTHER OF THE GRACCHI." In the dim but glorious past of Rome, this memorial of stone was reared by an admiring people to the memory of a Roman mother in whom were combined the noble virtues and lofty traits of character which, in that age, best repre- sented the ideal of heroic motherhood. This is, however, but a single instance, where, to the worth of motherhood, has been paid such signal honor. History has accorded the mother scant recognition; her biography has seldom been written; and the annals of time record scarce more than a passing word to bear testi- mony to that potent influence which, more than all else, has shaped the destinies of the world's distinguished men. But the highest and most lasting tribute to motherhood is not to be found in memorials of stone and brass — rather let it be sought in the lives of sons and daughters whose true greatness and nobility of character is attributable to that maternal influence which guided their infant steps through the impressionable period of life, and prepared them to meet with wisdom and with confidence the stern duties of maturer years. io MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Whether or not it be true that the gifts and character- istics of a mother are most often inherited by her son, while those of the father most frequently descend to the daughter, it is, nevertheless, an established fact that behind the life of many a great man — and the secret of his notable career — has been the influence of a great mother, which has molded his character and stimulated him to high endeavor. Difficult has been the task to find material for the making of a book which records the lives of even a few of these noble women. It is in the biography of the son, or in his autobiographical writings, one may sometimes find the incomplete story of her life ; and therefore, it is ofttimes necessary to recount much concerning the family of which she was the center, and of the son through whose fame she lives. Men are to be counted great, not alone by heritage of rank or wealth, but when by innate worth and merit they have risen to conspicuous places in the world's category of immortals. In this volume, the mothers who are accounted great are but types of women in every age, who, in the lives of their sons, have unconsciously built the foundation for that which is best and noblest in the life of the nation. Their influence is not to be estimated, but, like the ever- widening stream, is far-reaching, sweeping onward into the currents of Time. MARY BALL WASHINGTON MOTHER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON MARY BALL WASHINGTON, mother of Gen. George Washington, was of English ancestry, the direct line of the Ball family (which may be traced back to 1480) showing her to be seventh in descent from "William Ball, Lord of the Manor of Barkham, Com. Berks, died in the year, 1480." Barkham, known in olden times as "Boercham," is noted as the place at which William the Conqueror first came to a halt on his march from the bloody field of Hastings; and it is said that it was here he "stayed his ruthless hand." The Ball family belonged to the landed gentry of England — to that great middle class which, although not endowed with vast material riches, has proven to be possessed in a large measure of wealth of intellect; for from the landed, untitled gentry has sprung England's great host of scholars, poets, and philosophers. 12 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN William Ball was the first of his family to emi- grate to America, and in the year 1650 settled in Lancaster County, Virginia. At the time when he, in company with other cavaliers, left England, the royal house had been overthrown, and many of its adherents met with severe persecution, which forced them to seek the peace and freedom of colonial life. As to public services rendered by the Ball family, no record has been given, but it boasted a coat-of-arms showing a shield upon which is a "lion rampant — the most honorable emblem of heraldry; and the lion's paws bear aloft a ball!" The motto of the family, "Coelum tueri," comes from Ovid — "He gave to man a noble countenance, and commanded him to gaze upon the heavens, and to carry his looks upward to the stars." Bishop Meade says of the Ball coat-of-arms: "There is much that is bold about it; as a lion rampant with a globe in his paw, with helmet, shield, and visor, and other things betokening strength and courage — but none of these suit my work. There is, however, one thing that does. On a scroll are these words, 'Coelum tueri !' May it be a memento to all his posterity to look upward and seek the things which are above." MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 13 Before the time that the Ball family had emigrated to America, an Englishman by the name of John Washington had settled in Westmoreland, Virginia, and had risen to great influence, holding various responsible positions in the county. It was a descendant of this house — Augustine Wash- ington — who, in the year 1730, became the husband of Mary Ball. Of Mary Ball's childhood little is known. Many traditions relating to her girlhood are based on letters found by a Union soldier, but which undoubtedly refer to some other young woman having the same name. Her mother's death occur- ring when Mary Ball was only thirteen years of age, she went to make her home with her sister Elizabeth (the wife of Samuel Bonum), the only other surviving member of the immediate family. Of her personal appearance and attractiveness, Washington Irving writes that she was "a beauty and a belle. " His authority, however, was George Washington Parke Custis, the only person of her acquaintance who has left a written description of Mary Ball; and he knew her only when she had reached middle life. That she was typically English in appearance is to be granted; also, that she was "finely formed, her features pleasing, yet strongly marked." i 4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Her young womanhood was similar to that of any other Virginia maiden of her social position, during that period, in that she received a good edu- cation, and was also taught dancing, horsemanship, and kindred accomplishments, to fit her for the round of social pleasures which constituted the gay life of Westmoreland and the neighboring sec- tions of country. In the year 1730, at the age of twenty-two — considered in that day by no means an early age for marriage — she became the second wife of Augustine Washington. Her new home was a roomy, old-fashioned house on the banks of the Potomac; the plantation, known as "Wakefield," comprising a thousand acres of fine farming land, well wooded and well watered. The bride has been described* as ' 'covertly exploring her new home, and scanning the foot- prints of her predecessor ; keeping her own counsel, but instructing herself as to what manner of woman had first enthroned herself in the bosom of her lord. It appears she was arrested in this voyage of discovery by a small but rare treasure of books. Standing before the diamond-paned secretary, she examined one volume after another. Finally, turn- * "The Mother of Washington, and Her Times," by Mrs. Roger A. Pryor. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 15 ing over the leaves of one, she read, 'On Self- Denial/ 'On Ye Vanity and Vexation which Ariseth from Worldly Hope and Expectation.' These seemed to be words of wisdom by which one might be guided. The title page announced 'Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations'; the flyleaf revealed the name of the owner, 'Jane Washington.' Finding the inkhorn, she wrote firmly beneath, 'And Mary Washington' — probably the first time she had written the new name. "We all know the rest: how this book of Eng- land's learned Judge never left her side; how she read it to her stepsons and her own sons, how it was reverenced by George Washington, how it is treasured today at our National mecca — Mount Vernon." At the Wakefield home was born, on February 22, 1732, a son, whom Mrs. Washington named for her valued friend, George Eskridge. It was not long after this that the old house was destroyed by fire; the young wife, while diligently engaged in burning leaves and debris in her garden, found that the flames were beyond her control, and it was not long until the family mansion was in ashes. Her husband was away from home at the time, but through the exertions of Mrs. Washing- ton and her servants, some pieces of furniture and 16 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN a few treasured possessions were carried to a place of safety, the beloved "Sir Matthew Hale" being among the treasures rescued. The family "dined that day in the kitchen, in apparent content," and the burning of the home was not permitted to disturb in great measure the well-ordered routine of plantation life. After the loss of the Wakefield house, the Wash- ington moved to "Pine Grove," a farm on the banks of the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericks- burg. Here, in 1743, Augustine Washington died, leaving seven children — two by his first wife, and five by the second — to the care and guardianship of his young widow. George, the eldest of the five children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, was at this time only ten years of age; his brothers and sisters were Elizabeth, Samuel, John, and Augustine; Mildred, another child of this union, having died in infancy. The words of Goethe — "She is a most excellent woman, who, when the husband dies, becomes a father to the children" — are most applicable to Mrs. Washington. At the age of thirty-five, she was left alone with all the responsibilities of rearing a family, and administering upon a large estate; and in each MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 17 capacity she proved herself most worthy and capable of the trust. Mr. Custis, who in childhood was often a visitor at the Washington homes, writes as follows: "Bred in those domestic and independent habits which graced the Virginia matrons in the old days of Virginia, this lady, by the death of her husband, became involved in the cares of a young family at a period when those cares seem more especially to claim the aid and control of the stronger sex. It was left for this eminent woman, by a method the most rare, by an education and discipline the most peculiar and imposing, to form in the youth-time of her son those great and essential qualities which gave luster to the glories of his after-life. If the school savored the more of the Spartan than the Persian character, it was a fitter school to form a hero, destined to be the ornament of the age in which he flourished, and a standard of excellence for ages yet to come. "The home of Mrs. Washington, of which she was always mistress, was a pattern of order. There the levity and indulgence common to youth were tempered by a deference and well-regulated restraint, which, while it neither suppressed nor condemned rational enjoyment used in the spring- time of life, prescribed those enjoyments within 18 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN the bounds of moderation and propriety. Thus the chief was taught the duty of obedience, which pre- pared him to command. His mother held in reserve an authority which never departed from her, even when her son had become the most illustrious of men. It seemed to say, 'I am your mother, the being who gave you life, the guide who directed your steps when they needed a guardian: my maternal affection drew forth your love; my authority constrained your spirit; whatever may be your success or your renown, next to your God, your reverence is due to me.' "Nor did the chief dissent from the truths; but to the last moments of his venerable parent, yielded to her will the most dutiful and implicit obedience, and felt for her person and character the highest respect, and the most enthusiastic attachment. "Such were the domestic influences under which the mind of Washington was formed, and that he not only profited by, but fully appreciated, their excellence and the character of his mother, his behavior toward her at all times testified." Mrs. Washington rose fully equal to the condi- tion of affairs which confronted her. Strong self- reliance, combined with unusual executive ability, aided her in the performance of the multitudinous duties which thronged her footsteps. The planta- MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 19 tion was to be superintended, her children edu- cated, and various matters pertaining to the house- hold given personal attention. In the home circle, Mrs. Washington's rule was none the less than that of a queen over her little kingdom. From her children she exacted strictest obedience, and received their deepest reverence and love ; her friends were many, and were given warm welcome beneath the hospitable roof; her servants were loyal and devoted, and received in return kindly consideration and watchful care. From the windows of her home might be obtained a view of Fredericksburg, and of the wharf where ships from England came to unload their wares, receiving in exchange great cargoes of tobacco, which was fast becoming a popular luxury in the old world. That Mrs. Washington did not engage in bartering with the English traders is evident from a letter written to her brother Joseph in England, excusing herself for not sending letters, with the following explana- tion: "As I don't ship tobacco, the Captains never call on me, soe that I never know when tha come and when tha goe." Says Mr. Custis : "Her great industry, with the well regulated economy of all her concerns, enabled her to dispense considerable charities to the poor, although her own circum- stances were always far from rich. All manner of 20 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN domestic economies met her zealous attentions; while everything about her household bore marks of her care and management, and very many things the impress of her own hands The mother of George Washington, the hero of the American Revolutionary War, and the first President of the United States, claimed the noblest distinction that a woman should covet or gain, that of training a gifted son in the way he should go, and inspiring him, by her example, to make the way of goodness his path to glory." Life in the colonies was filled with many social pleasures. Hospitality abounded everywhere, and there was a constant round of house-parties and other festivities, winter and summer. "Pine Grove" was the mecca for relatives of the Wash- ington family, and a large circle of friends, both young and old. Always cordial and of cheerful spirit, Mrs. Washington, however, possessed a dignity of manner that at first rather repelled strangers, and caused children to stand somewhat in awe of her. Lawrence Washington, who was cousin and playmate of her son, George, thus speaks of her austerity of manner: "I was often there with George, his playmate, schoolmate, and young companion. Of the mother, I was ten times more afraid than I ever was of my own parents; she MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 21 awed me in the midst of her kindness — for she was indeed truly kind. And even now, when time has whitened my locks, and I am the grandparent of the second generation, I could not behold that majestic woman without feelings it is impossible to describe. Whoever has seen that awe-inspiring air and manner so characteristic of the Father of His Country, will remember the matron as she appeared the presiding genius of her well-ordered household, commanding and being obeyed." To this description is no doubt due the universal impression of the stern manner of Mrs. Wash- ington. With high sense of honor and sincerity of mind, she is accredited with the twofold virtue of never gossiping, nor allowing those about her to in- dulge in this habit. Sincerity was with her a pro- nounced characteristic, and she always expected to a like degree the same virtue in others. It has been said that visitors never failed to receive from Mrs. Washington a gracious, cordial welcome, but when they once had stated that they could no longer re- main, she took them at their word, and afforded every facility to aid in their departure. Always prompt in meeting appointments, she brought up her children to observe the same habit. Especially did her son George thus learn the value 22 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN of time, which served him well in the high offices to which he was called later on. The chaplain of Congress has recorded the fact that when the hour of noon had been fixed for the hearing of the Presi- dent's message, he usually "crossed the threshold as the clock struck the hour." When guests did not arrive at the appointed time for dinner, it is said that Washington allowed five minutes for variation of timepieces; and in reply to profuse apologies would calmly state, "I have a cook who never asks whether the company has come, but whether the hour has come." Among the duties of Mrs. Washington, it was of supreme importance that the inheritance of her children should be carefully guarded until each child on reaching majority should receive his portion. An adage in Virginia was, "Keep your land, and your land will keep you"; but Mrs. Washington realized that, though the maintenance of the family would be well assured from the income derived from their land, there would not be a large surplus, and accordingly with wisdom prepared her sons to earn their own living. George was sent first to an "old-field" school, taught by Master Hobly, the sexton of the parish church. Later, under the direction of his half-brother Lawrence, he attended the school of Master Williams. One winter he MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 23 rode horseback ten miles to school each day. When fourteen years of age, he became exceedingly anxious to go to sea, and his brother Lawrence obtained for him a midshipman's warrant. So bitterly did his mother oppose such a venture that to please her he relinquished the idea, saying, "I am not going to make my mother suffer so by leav- ing her!" This decision was the turning-point in George Washington's life, for, by deciding to re- main at home, he soon afterwards was offered and accepted the position of surveyor to Lord Fairfax; and later became a soldier. When nineteen years of age, he was appointed one of the adjutant- generals of Virginia. The stern frontier life had been fitting him unconsciously for his future career, and he was becoming more and more imbued with the love of a soldier's life. It was the wish of Mrs. Washington that her eldest son follow the footsteps of his father, and reside on his own estate at Mount Vernon, "as became a country gentleman." She opposed equally as much his fighting for the English crown in the French and Indian Wars, as she did later his fighting against the crown. When he first set forth for the frontier beyond the Blue Ridge, she entreated him not to go, exclaiming "Oh, this fighting and killing!" But when he convinced her that it was a duty which he owed his country, 24 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN she became calm, and placing her hand on his shoulder said, "God. is our sure trust. To Him I commend you." When offered by General Brad- dock a place on his staff, George was urged by his mother to decline, but he replied, "The God to whom you commended me, Madam, when I set out on a more perilous errand, defended me from all harm ; and I trust He will do so now." When news of Braddock's defeat, and the terrible slaughter of his soldiers, reached the little town of Fredericks- burg, and was conveyed to the anxious mother, she was forced for twelve days to be in ignorance of her son's safety. In a letter which portrayed char- acteristic calmness, he told of how for more than ten days he had been confined to a wagon by ill- ness, from which he had not half-recovered when the battle came on; how, physically unfitted, he had entered the fight, making marvelous escape with four bullets through his coat, and having had two horses shot under him. The letter concluded with saying that it would probably be September before he could hope to leave for Mount Vernon ; and that he was, "Honored Madam," her most dutiful son. In 1759, Washington married the beautiful and wealthy Mrs. Custis; but the hope that the mother entertained of his relinquishing the soldier's life upon marriage was not to be attained, for he soon MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 25 entered again into the fortunes of war with keenest enthusiasm. When Washington returned home after the narrow escape from death, his mother drove to Mount Vernon to meet him, and insisted that he leave the service, as health and fortune were both endangered. He gave no answer at the time, but wrote her shortly afterward as follows : "Honored Madam : — If it is in my power to avoid going to Ohio again, I shall ; but if the command is pressed upon me by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as can not be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to refuse it, and that, I am sure, must or ought to give you greater uneasiness than my going in an honorable command. Upon no other terms will I accept it." With this high sense of honor and devotion to duty which had been instilled in him by his mother, Washington knew well that any reflection of this kind upon his name would meet with her stern dis- approval; and, great as was her dislike for war, she would make no further resistance. Betty, the only daughter of Mrs. Washington, at the age of seventeen married her uncle-in-law, Fielding Lewis (a widower of two months), and lived at "Kenmore," not far from "Pine Grove," the home of the Washingtons. The sons also 26 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN having scattered to their own homes, the mother was left entirely alone, refusing to make her home elsewhere; and, busied with her simple household duties, she lived in quiet content. At length the storm of the American Revolution broke over the country, and Mrs. Washington was greatly perturbed, not only for the reason that "the righting and the killing" would again begin, but that she was closely bound to the mother country by ties of kinship, and was also a loyal member of the Church of England. And when news came that her son was to lead the rebellious army, she found it, indeed, difficult to be resigned. So bitter was her feeling that Washington, riding over to Freder- icksburg to see her, stopped first at the little inn, "The Indian Queen/' before going to his mother's home, deeming it best "to pause and reconnoiter." That a member of the family should put up at a tavern was an unheard-of occurrence, and Mrs. Washington, learning of his action, said, "Tell George to come home instantly — instantly." After a long and affectionate conversation, she pressed him to her bosom, and commending him to God, again gave him, with her blessing, into his country's service. During the trying times that followed, although often filled with alarm and anxiety, Mrs. Washing- MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 27 ton never tolerated expressions of discouragement and complaint. "The mothers and wives of brave men," said she, "must be brave women." She fol- lowed with keenest interest every detail of the war, at the same time continuing her usual quiet mode of living. At the urgent request of her children, she had, however, given up the country home, and moved to Fredericksburg, to an unpretentious dwelling, with grounds adjoining "Kenmore," the estate of her son-in-law, Col. Fielding Lewis. A favorite resort of Mrs. Washington was a secluded spot, shaded with vines and trees, on the land of Colonel Lewis, near-by her home. To this quiet spot, called Oratory Rock, she retired daily that she might spend some time in prayer, apart from the noise and distractions of the world. Every day, in an open chaise, she drove to her farm, and there gave personal supervision to the work; returning to town with a jug of water from the spring out of which her husband and children had drank, and bringing seeds and cuttings for her garden in town. On one occasion her overseer was called to account for having departed from her instructions. "Madam," said he, "in my judgment the work has been done to better advantage than if I had followed your instructions." "And pray, sir," was the swift reply, "who gave you the right to exercise any 28 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN judgment in the matter? I command you, sir! There is nothing for you to do but obey." Every Sabbath found her in her accustomed place at church; and by the example of a devout and con- sistent life she exerted unconsciously a strong influence for good. When news came of the victories of Trenton and Princeton, in the ten-days' campaign which Fred- erick the Great referred to as the most brilliant in the annals of war, congratulations poured in for the mother from every quarter. With calmness and utter freedom from undue pride, she gave reply, "But, my good sirs, here is too much flattery — still George will not forget the lessons I early taught him; he will not forget himself though he is the subject of so much praise/' And again she responded quietly, "George seems to have deserved well of his country, but we must not praise -him too much. George has not forgotten his duty." Once, so the story goes, a courier, followed by a great throng of people eager for news from the battlefield, brought to Mrs. Washington a packet from headquarters. To the dismay of all, she calmly dropped it, unread, into her pocket, remark- ing, "It is all right — I am well assured of that." The courier gently suggested, "There may have been a battle — the neighbors would like to know." MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 29 Accordingly, she glanced over the contents of the packet, and remarked "There has been a victory" ; adding, "George generally carries through what- ever he undertakes." The Revolutionary War reached its crisis, and when the end had actually come, Washington sent to his mother a courier bearing news of the sur- render. Raising her hands toward heaven, she gave fervent thanks to God "that the fighting and killing" were now over, and that peace would again reign. Of the meeting between Mrs. Washington and her now world-famed son, Mr. Custis writes : "After an absence of nearly seven years, it was at length, on the return of the combined armies from Yorktown, permitted to the mother again to see and embrace her illustrious son. So soon as he had dismounted, in the midst of a numerous and brilliant suite, he sent to apprise her of his arrival, and to know when it would be her pleasure to receive him. No pageantry of war proclaimed his coming, no trumpets sounded, no banners waved The lady was alone, her aged hands employed in the works of domestic industry, when the good news was announced She wel- comed him with warm embrace, and by well- remembered and endearing names of his childhood ; enquiring as to his health, she remarked the lines 3 o MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN which mighty cares had made on his manly coun- tenance, spoke much of old times and old friends — but of his glory, not one word." When Lafayette visited America, he went to Fredericksburg to call on the mother of the nation's hero. He found her working among her flowers — clad in a simple home-made garb, a plain straw hat upon her head. She bade him a cordial welcome, saying, "Ah, Marquis, you see an old woman, but come, I can make you welcome to my poor dwelling without the parade of changing my dress/' To the high praise which Lafayette bestowed upon her son, the characteristic reply was given: "I am not surprised at what George has done, for he was always a very good boy." As we read of this meeting between the great French commander and the mother of the American hero, one can but contrast the two great generals of France and America — Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington — the one, whose brilliant career was cut off so suddenly, and who sank into death on St. Helena; the other, crowned with the laurels bestowed by a loyal people, living to receive the highest honor his nation could bestow. It is of interest to note that, through the Willis family, Mrs. Washington's descendants became allied to the Bonapartes. She was an ancestress of MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 31 Catherine Willis, who at the age of thirteen mar- ried, and was left a widow at fourteen. Accom- panying her parents to Pensacola, Ela., the youth- ful widow met and married Achille Murat, ex- prince of Naples, and nephew of Napoleon Bona- parte. John Randolph and other friends once accompanied her on a trip to England, and while visiting one of the London art galleries, Randolph called attention to the portraits of Washington and Napoleon, hanging side by side. "Before us/' said he, with dramatic manner, "we have Napoleon and Washington — one the founder of a mighty empire, the other of a great Republic. " Turning to Cath- erine, he continued, "Behold in the Princess Murat the niece of both — a distinction she alone can claim !"* On the fourteenth of April, 1789, Washington was officially notified that he had been chosen Presi- dent of the United States. Before leaving for New York, he went to bid his mother farewell. She was cheerful, though failing health was evident, and remarked to him : "You will see me no more. Age and disease warn me that I shall not be long in this world. I trust in God I am somewhat prepared for a better. But go; fulfill the high destinies which * In the cemetery at Tallahassee, Fla., are buried the Prince and Princess Murat (who represent the families of Bonaparte and Washington). 32 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Heaven appears to assign you; go, and may Heaven's and your mother's blessing be with you always." This was their last meeting, for she passed away August 25 of the same year, at the age of eighty-five, of cancer of the breast. On the twenty-seventh of August, Mrs. Washington was buried in the spot selected by herself, and over which there stands a monument erected by the women of America, in memory of her whose name stands as a type of the best and noblest in American motherhood. The modest dwelling which was her last residence in Fredericksburg is cared for by a society of Virginia women; and the garden, which was her pride and delight, is likewise lovingly preserved. Said Senator Daniels, at the unveiling of the monument to Mary Washington, at Freder- icksburg : "Fortunate is the woman, said the Greek of old, of whom neither good nor ill is spoken. And, cur- tained away from the world, the matron lived under the great Taskmaster's eye, in the bosom of that home, by whose fruit ye shall know her She nursed a hero at her breast. At her knee she trained to the love and fear of God, and to the kingly virtues — honor, truth, and valor, the lion of the tribe that gave to America liberty and independence. This is her title to renown. It is enough. Eternal MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 33 dignity and heavenly grace dwell upon the brow of this blessed mother; nor burnished gold, nor sculptured stone, nor rhythmic praise could add one jot or one tittle to her chaste glory She was the unassuming wife and mother whose kingdom was her family, whose world was her home. In the shadow and in the silence, from day to day and year to year, she followed the guiding star of that truth which tells us that 'to do that which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom/ She was the good angel of the hearthstone — the special providence of tender hearts and helpless hands, content to bear her burden in the sequestered vale of life, her thoughts unperverted by false ambitions, and all unlooking for the great reward that crowned her love and toil." It is well that the women of her country have erected fitting memorials to her name, that men of eloquence have spoken of her virtues ; but the most worthy tribute to the memory of Mary Washington is found in the words of her illustrious son, who spoke this mighty sentence : "All that I am I owe to my mother." » 34 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN The Will of Mary Washington, as recorded in the Clerk's office at Fredericksburg, reads as follows : "In the name of God! Amen! "I, Mary Washington, of Fredericksburg, in the County of Spotsylvania, being in good health, but calling to mind the uncertainty of this life, and willing to dispose of what remains of my worldly estate, do make and publish this my last Will, recommending my soul into the hands of my Creator, hoping for a remission of all my sins, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind ; I dispose of my worldly estate as follows : "Imprimis : I give to my son General George Washing- ton, all my land in Acokeek Run, in the County of Stafford, and also my negro Ivy George to him and his heirs for- ever. Also my best bed, bedstead, and Virginia cloth cur- tains (the same that stands in my best bedroom), my quilted blue and white quilt, and my best dressing-glass. "Item. I give and devise to my son Charles Washington, my negro man Tom, to him and his assigns forever. "Item. I give and devise to my daughter Bettie Lewis, my phaeton and my bay horse. "Item. I give and devise to my daughter-in-law Hannah Washington, my purple cloth cloak lined with shag. "Item. I give and devise to my grandson, Corbin Wash- ington, my negro wench, old Bet, my riding-chair, and two black horses, to him and his assigns forever. "Item. I give and devise to my grandson Fielding Lewis, my negro man Frederick, to him and his assigns forever, also eight silver table spoons, half of my crockery-ware, and the blue and white tea china, with book-case, oval MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 35 table, one bedstead, one pair sheets, one pair blankets and white cotton counterpane, two table cloths, six red leather chairs, half my pewter and one-half my kitchen furniture. "Item. I give and devise to my grandson Lawrence Lewis, my negro wench Lydia, to him and his assigns for- ever. "Item. I give and devise to my grand daughter, Bettie Curtis, my negro woman, little Bet, and her future increase, to her and her assigns forever. Also my largest looking- glass, my walnut writing desk and drawers, a square dining table, one bed, bedstead, bolster, one pillow, one blanket and pair sheets, white Virginia cloth counterpains and purple curtains, my red and white tea china, teaspoons, and the other half of my pewter and crockery ware, and the remainder of my iron kitchen furniture. "Item. I give and devise to my grandson, George Wash- ington, my next best glass, one bed, bedstead, bolster, one pillow, one pair sheets, one blanket and counterpain. "Item. I devise all my wearing apparel to be equally divided between my grand daughters, Bettie Curtis, Fannie Ball, and Milly Washington — but should my daughter, Bettie Lewis, fancy any one, two or three articles, she is to have them before a division thereof. "Lastly, I nominate and appoint my said son, General George Washington, executor of this, my Will, and as I owe few or no debts, I direct my executor to give no security or appraise my estate, but desire the same may be allotted to my devisees, with as little trouble and delay as may be, desiring their acceptance thereof as all the token I now have to give them of my love for them. 36 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN "In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 20th day of May, 1788. "Mary Washington "Witness, John Ferneyhough "Signed, sealed and published in the presence of the said Mary Washington and at her desire. "J no. Mercer. "Joseph Walker." II MARGARET COX RUSKIN MOTHER OF JOHN RUSKIN "I never disobeyed my mother; I have honored all women with solemn worship. — John Ruskin. THE words of John Ruskin ring true and deep in loyal affection for the mother to whose influence he ascribes all that is good in his life; and it is to his fascinating but incom- plete autobiography, "Praeterita," that one must turn to find the record of her life. Brief though these glimpses be of Mrs. Ruskin, they present, in a most interesting manner, her un- usual personality, firmness of character, and austere rules of living, which made strong impress upon her son. Margaret Cox was the daughter of Captain and Mrs. Cox, of Yarmouth. Her mother, who was early left a widow, was the capable manager of the Old King's Head, in Market Street, Croydon. Of his maternal ancestors, Ruskin states that he knew 3 8 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN little; adding, in a rather jocular vein, that he wished his grandmother "were alive again, and I could paint her Simone Memmi's King's Head for a sign." Of his grandfather, his knowledge is summed up as follows : "My maternal grandfather was, as I have said, a sailor, who used to embark, like Robinson Crusoe, at Yarmouth, and come back at rare intervals, making himself very delightful at home. I have an idea he had something to do with the herring business, but am not clear on that point ; my mother never being much communicative con- cerning it. He spoiled her and her (younger) sister, with all his heart, when he was at home; unless there appeared any tendency to equivocation or imaginative statements on the part of the chil- dren, which were always unforgivable. My mother, being once perceived by him to have distinctly told him a lie, he sent the servant out forthwith to buy an entire bundle of new broom twigs to whip her with. 'They did not hurt me so much as one (twig) would have done/ said my mother, 'but I thought a good deal of it/ "My grandfather was killed at two-and-thirty, by trying to ride, instead of walk, into Croydon; he got his leg crushed by his horse against a wall ; and died of the hurt's mortifying. My mother was then seven or eight years old, and with her sister, was MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 39 sent to quite a fashionable (for Croydon) day- school, Mrs. Rice's, where my mother was taught evangelical principles, and became the pattern girl and best needlewoman in the school ; and where my aunt absolutely refused evangelical principles, and became the plague and pet of it. My mother, be- ing a girl of great power, with not a little pride, grew more and more exemplary in her entirely con- scientious career, much laughed at, though much beloved by her sister; who had more wit, less pride, and no conscience." Except for this limited account of Margaret Cox's school days, little is known of her life prior to marriage. Of his father, John James Ruskin, who was the son of John Ruskin and Catherine Tweddale, Ruskin has little to say further than that "he began business as a wine-merchant, with no capital, and a considerable amount of debt bequeathed to him by my grandfather. He accepted the bequest, and paid them all before he began to lay by anything for himself — for which his best friends called him a fool, and I, without expressing any opinion as to his wisdom, which I knew in such matters to be at least equal to mine, have written on the granite slab over his grave that he was 'an entirely honest mer- chant'." That his Scotch shrewdness, industry, and 40 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN capability for saving, served him in good stead as a business man is very evident from the fact that John James Ruskin amassed a fortune of two hun- dred thousand pounds. Of the acquaintanceship of Margaret Cox and John James Ruskin, which finally ripened into love and marriage, the following account is given in their son's autobiography: "At last my mother, formed into a consummate housewife, was sent for to Scot- land to take care of my paternal grandfather's home ; who was gradually ruining himself ; and who at last effectually ruined, and killed, himself. My father came up to London; was a clerk in a mer- chant's house for nine years, without a holiday; then began business on his own account; paid his father's debts ; and married his exemplary Croydon cousin." Their engagement had continued through a period of nine years, during which time the younger Ruskin had become established in business. In the meantime, Margaret Cox steadily endeavored to cultivate her powers of mind, in order to become the worthy companion of a man whom she con- sidered to be greatly her superior. Finally, one evening, after supper was over, the marriage took place, not even the servants having a suspicion of MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 41 the event "until John and Margaret drove away together next morning to Edinburgh." In Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, London, the Ruskins resided, and here, on February 8, 18 19, John Ruskin was born, spending the first four years of his life amid the dull and monotonous surround- ings of this cheerless part of the city. Only in the summer, when the family went away for a few weeks' travel, did the world disclose to him its marvelous beauty and interest. During these early years in London, he "was accustomed to no other prospect than that of the brick walls over the way; had no brothers nor sisters nor companions, and though I could always make myself happy in a quiet way, the beauty of the mountains had an additional charm of change and adventure for me, which a country-bred child could not have felt." The younger sister of Margaret Cox had remained in Croydon, and married a baker. She was always the staunch ally of her little nephew, whose lonely existence appealed to her sympathetic heart; and tried by many little acts of kindness to brighten the dreary situation. "My mother's general principles of first treat- ment," says Ruskin, "were to guard me with steady 42 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN watchfulness from all avoidable pain or danger; and for the rest, to let me amuse myself as I liked, provided I was neither fretful nor troublesome. But the law was, that I should find my own amuse- ment. No toys of any kind were at first allowed; and the pity of my Croydon aunt for my poverty in this respect was boundless. On one of my birth- days, thinking to overcome my mother's resolution by splendor of temptation, she bought the most radiant Punch and Judy she could find in all the Soho Bazaar — as big as a real Punch and Judy, all dressed in scarlet and gold, and that would dance, tied to the leg of a chair. I must have been greatly impressed, for I remember well the look of the two figures, as my aunt herself exhibited their virtues. My mother was obliged to accept them; but after- wards quietly told me it was not right that I should have them ; and I never saw them again. Nor did I painfully wish, what I was never per- mitted for an instant to hope or even imagine, the possession of such things as one saw in toyshops. I had a bunch of keys to play with, as long as I was capable of pleasure in what glittered and jingled; as I grew older, I had a cart, and a ball; and when I was five or six years old, two boxes of well-cut wooden bricks." MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 43 It was in playing with wooden bricks that his love for architecture, even thus early in childhood, was aroused. "With these modest, but, I still think, entirely sufficient possessions, and being always summarily whipped if I cried, did not do as I was bid, or tumbled on the stairs, I soon attained serene and secure methods of life and motion ; and could pass my days contentedly in tracing the squares and comparing the colors of my carpet; examining the knots in the wood of the floor, or counting the bricks in the opposite house; the rapturous inter- vals of excitement during the filling of the water- cart, through its leathern pipe, from the dripping iron post at the pavement edge; or the still more admirable proceedings of the turncock, when he turned and turned till a fountain sprang up in the middle of the street. But the carpet, and what pat- terns I could find in bed-covers, dresses, or wall- papers to be examined, were my chief resources, and my attention to the particulars in these was soon so accurate, that when at three and a half I was taken to have my portrait painted by Mr. Northcote, I had not been ten minutes alone with him before I asked him why there were holes in his carpet. The portrait in question represents a very pretty child with yellow hair, dressed in a white 44 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN frock like a girl, with a broad light-blue sash and blue shoes to match; the feet of the child whole- somely large in proportion to its body; and the shoes still more wholesomely large in proportion to the feet." Carefully and thoroughly trained herself, and desiring for her son all the advantages which would develop in him the noblest and highest principles, Mrs. Ruskin did not fail to impress upon him, from early infancy, the worth of education, and of a life devoted to the best and holiest things. "My mother had, as she afterwards told me," says Ruskin, "solemnly 'devoted me to God' before I was born, in imitation of Hannah. Very good women are remarkably apt to make away with their children prematurely, in this manner: the real meaning of the pious act being that, as the sons of Zebedee are not (or at least they hope not) to sit on the right and left of Christ, in His kingdom, their sons may perhaps, they think, in time be advanced to that respectable position in eternal life ; especially if they ask Christ very humbly for it every day; and they always forget in the most naive way that the position is not His to give! 'Devoting me to God/ meant, as far as my mother knew herself what she meant, that she would try to send me to college, and make a clergyman of me: and I was MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 45 accordingly bred for 'the church.' My father, who — rest be to his soul — had the exceedingly bad habit of yielding to my mother in large things and taking his own way in little ones, allowed me, without say- ing a word, to be thus withdrawn from the sherry trade as an unclean thing; not without some pardonable participation in my mother's ultimate views for me. For many and many a year after- wards, I remember, while he was speaking to one of our artist friends, who admired Raphael, and greatly regretted my endeavors to interfere with that popular taste — while my father and he were condoling with each other on my having been impudent enough to think I could tell the public about Turner and Raphael — instead of contenting myself, as I ought, with explaining the way of their souls' salvation to them — and what an amiable clergyman was lost in me — 'Yes,' said my father, with tears in his eyes (true and tender tears as father ever shed) ; 'he would have been a Bishop.' "Luckily for me, my mother, under these distinct impressions of her own duty, and with such latent hopes of my future eminence, took me very early to church, where, in spite of my quiet habits, and my mother's golden vinaigrette, always indulged to me there, and there only, with its lid unclasped that I might see the wreathed open pattern above the 46 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN sponge, I found the bottom of the pew so extremely dull a place to keep quiet in (my best story-books being also taken away from me in the morning) that, as I have somewhere said before, the horror of Sunday used even to cast its prescient gloom as far back in the week as Friday — and all the glory of Monday, with church seven days removed again, was no equivalent for it." However distasteful the strict observance of the Sabbath, and attendance upon church services, might have been to the youthful Ruskin, there was nevertheless a lasting impression made upon his infant mind, for, says he, ''Notwithstanding, I arrived at some abstract in my own mind of the Rev. Howell's sermons; and occasionally, in imita- tion of him, preached a sermon at home over the red sofa cushions — this performance being always called for by my mother's dearest friends, as the greatest accomplishment of my childhood. The sermon was, I believe, some eleven words long; very exemplary, it seems to me, in that respect — and I still think must have been the purest gospel, for I know it began, 'People, be good'." Although the desire of his parents that he should enter the ministry was not attained, yet, through the pure, uplifting thoughts which have come from MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 47 his pen, Ruskin still speaks from a world-wide pul- pit, "People, be good/' When about the age of four years, Ruskin's city home was changed for more congenial surroundings at Heme Hill, where the attractive rural locality was most welcome to the child, who longed for wider acquaintance with the world. Each summer, as was their custom, the family made a tour through England, Wales, and the lowlands of Scot- land, soliciting orders for Mr. Ruskin's establish- ment. In this way they gained familiarity with "all the high-roads, and most of the cross ones," as far north as Perth, where every other year they remained for the entire summer. Mrs. Ruskin, as her son grew older, directed his reading of the his- tory and literature of those sections of country which they traversed; and as opportunity pre- sented, together they visited many of the splendid castles, magnificent art galleries, and lovely gardens. Thus was Ruskin's love for the artistic and beauti- ful developed and increased. Of the castles of England he writes : "To my farther great benefit, as I grew older, I thus saw nearly all the noblemen's houses in England, in reverent and healthy delight of uncovetous admira- tion — perceiving, as soon as I could perceive any political truth at all, that it was probably much 48 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN happier to live in a small house, and leave Warwick Castle to be astonished at ; but that, at all events, it would not make Brunswick Square in the least more pleasantly habitable, to pull Warwick Castle down. And at this day, though I have kind invita- tions enough to visit America, I could not, even for a couple of months, live in a country so miserable as to possess no castles." This midsummer holiday was, for young Ruskin, the means of acquiring extensive knowledge by close observation, and also of developing his appre- ciation of the beautiful in art and nature; but the simple mode of life and strict discipline of his mother had instilled a preference for "things modest, humble, and pure in peace" ; and so he says, "while I never to this day pass a lattice- windowed cottage without wishing to be its cottager, I never yet saw the castle which I envied to be its lord." As to the methods of instruction employed by his mother, Ruskin says: "I think the treatment, or accidental conditions, of my childhood entirely right, for a child of my temperament : but the mode of my introduction to literature appears to me questionable, and I am not prepared to carry it out in St. George's schools without much modification. I absolutely declined to read by syllable ; but would MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 49 get an entire sentence by heart with great facility, and point with accuracy to every word in the page as I repeated it. As, however, the words were once displaced, I had no more to say; my mother gave up, for the time, the endeavor to teach me to read, hoping only that I might consent, in process of years, to adopt the popular system of syllabic study. But I went on to amuse myself in my own way; learnt whole words at a time, as I did pat- terns; and at five years old was sending for my 'second volumes' to the circulating library." His education progressed with a rapidity unusual for one of his years ; and at extremely early age he had developed a great liking for the writings of Homer and of Sir Walter Scott. In his own interesting way, he refers to these writers of widely differing times. "I am, and my father was before me, a violent Tory of the old school — Walter Scott's school, that is to say, and Homer's. I name these two out of the numberless great Tory writers, because they were my own two masters. I had Walter Scott's novels and the Iliad (Pope's trans- lation) for constant reading when I was a child, on week-days : on Sunday, their effect was tempered by Robinson Crusoe and the Pilgrim's Progress; my mother having it deep in her heart to make an evangelical clergyman of me. Fortunately, I had 5o MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN an aunt more evangelical than my mother; and my aunt gave me cold mutton for Sunday's dinner, which — as I much preferred it hot — greatly dimin- ished the influence of Pilgrim's Progress; and the end of the matter was that I got all the noble, imaginative teaching of Defoe and Bunyan, and yet — am not an evangelical clergyman. I had, how- ever, still better teaching than theirs, and that com- pulsorily, and every day in the week. "Walter Scott and Pope's Homer were reading of my own election, and my mother forced me, by steady daily toil, to learn long chapters of the Bible by heart ; as well as to read it every syllable through, aloud, hard names and all, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, about once a year: and to that dis- cipline — patient, accurate, and resolute — I owe, not only the knowledge of the book, which I find occa- sionally serviceable, but much of my general power of taking pains, and the best part of my taste in literature. From Walter Scott's novels I might easily, as I grew older, have fallen to other people's novels; and Pope might, perhaps, have led me to take Johnson's English or Gibbon's, as types of language; but once knowing the 32nd of Deuter- onomy, the 119th Psalm, the 15th of 1st Corinthians, the sermon on the Mount, and most of the Apocalypse, every syllable by heart, and having MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 51 always a way of thinking with myself what w r ords meant, it was not possible for me, even in the fool- ishest times of youth, to write entirely superficial or formal English; and the affectation of trying to write like Hooker and George Herbert was the most innocent I could have fallen into." The home-life of the Ruskin family was simple and unpretending. They lived much to themselves, and Ruskin recalls that, during his childhood years, his diet was exceedingly limited. In regard to this he says : "We seldom had company, even on week- days; and I was never allowed to come down to dessert, until much later in life — when I was able to crack other people's nuts for them (I hope they liked the ministration), but never to have any my- self ; nor anything else of dainty kind, either then or at other times. Once, in Hunter Street, I recollect my mother giving me three raisins, in the forenoon, out of the store cabinet; and I remember perfectly the first time I tasted custard, in our lodgings in Norfolk Street — where we had gone while the house was being painted, or cleaned, or something. My father was dining in the front room, and did not finish his custard; and my mother brought me the bottom of it into the back room." Associated with the elder Ruskin in business were two partners, making the firm of Ruskin, 52 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Telford, and Domecq — the last-named being in reality the head of the establishment, and the other two his agents. It was to Mr. Telford's influence that John Ruskin attributes his attention being drawn to the work of Turner. An illustrated edi- tion of Italy was given by Mr. Telford (at the sug- gestion of his sisters) to Ruskin, and from that time on he was Turner's ardent champion, and the tenor of his life determined. "Poor Mr. Telford," says Ruskin, "was always held by papa and mamma primarily responsible for my Turner insanities." It was ever a source of regret to Ruskin that in his early years he seldom had companions with whom to play. His mother's chief personal pleasure was in caring for her flowers, and Ruskin says "was often planting or pruning beside me, at least if I chose to stay beside her. I never thought of doing anything behind her back which I would not have done before her face; and her presence was therefore no restraint to me." He adds, however, that being left alone so much in childhood caused him, by the time he was seven years old, to be getting independent, mentally, even of his father and mother; and having no one else to depend upon, "began to lead a very small, perky, contented, conceited, Cock- Robinson-Crusoe sort of life." Although he always MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 53 paid high tribute to his mother in regard to the training which fitted him for his future notable career, still he felt that nothing could ever quite atone for the lack of young companions, and the extreme loneliness which marked his early years. He attached the blame in a measure to his father, who had so much confidence in his mother's judg- ment that he "never ventured even to help, much less to cross her," in the management and education of their son. Mrs. Ruskin, having determined that her son should be "an ecclesiastical gentleman," endeavored to keep him securely guarded from all worldly affairs and frivolity. Ruskin's education, under his mother's direction, progressed rapidly and with systematic preciseness. Referring to his studies, he says : "My mother never gave me more to learn than I could easily get learnt, if I set myself honestly to work, by twelve o'clock. She never allowed anything to dis- turb me when my task was set; if it was not said rightly by twelve o'clock, I was kept in till I knew it, and in general, even when Latin grammar came to supplement the Psalms, I was my own master for at least an hour before half-past one dinner, and for the rest of the afternoon." The afternoons were entirely his own for recreation such as he might choose. Having no pets to care for, or to 54 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN make less lonely his hours for play, he says, "On the whole, I had nothing animate to care for, in a childish way, but myself, some nests of ants, which the gardener would never leave undisturbed for me, and a sociable bird or two ; though I never had the sense or perseverance to make one really tame. But that was partly because, if I ever managed to bring one to be the least trustful of me, the cats got it" On one occasion Mrs. Ruskin gave permission for her little son to accompany Thomas, the serving- man, to the stable, but expressly forbade that he go within reach of the dog's chain. "Lion" was at his dinner, and Ruskin says that, unmindful of his mother's parting injunction, he leaned from the servant's arms and attempted to pat the dog. Sud- denly "Lion" flew at him and bit a piece out of the corner of his lip. With the blood flowing profusely, he was borne to' his distressed mother, but still "not a whit frightened, except lest 'Lion' should be sent away." "Lion," indeed, was sent away speedily, and for a time the lad was ordered by his physician to keep perfect silence until the wound healed. Be- fore relapsing into a state of silence, however, he took opportunity to observe most soberly, "Mamma, though I can't speak, I can play upon the fiddle." This suggestion did not seem to meet with approval, for he adds: "But the house was of another MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 55 opinion, and I never attained any proficiency upon that instrument worthy of my genius/' With neither companions nor pets to divert him, Ruskin's powers of imagination developed marvel- ously, and, as he says, "either fastened themselves on inanimate things — the sky, the leaves, and pebbles, observable within the walls of Eden — or caught at any opportunity of flight into regions of romance, compatible with the objective realities of existence in the nineteenth century, within a mile and a quarter of Camberwell Green." His father, unconsciously, aided in stimulating these imagina- tive powers, by entertaining him at times when his mother's rules permitted. It was the child's delight to be permitted to watch his father shave, and that operation concluded, to listen to a story which described a certain picture hanging over the dress- ing-table. This picture, a little watercolor, the work of Mr. Ruskin, Sr., had a great charm for the tiny lad, and he never wearied of hearing the story connected with it. The picture in question was "of Conway Castle with its Frith, and in the foreground, a cottage, a fisherman, and a boat at the water's edge." The story began with the fisherman and his daily doings, the plot of the drama gradually thickening until it became "involved with that of the tragedy of Douglas, and of the Castle Specter, 56 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN in both of which pieces my father had performed in private theatricals, before my mother, and a select Edinburgh audience, when he was a boy of sixteen, and she at grave twenty, a model housekeeper, and very scornful and religiously suspicious of theatri- cals. But she was never weary of telling me, in later years, how beautiful my father looked in his Highland dress, with the high black feathers." (In a footnote in his autobiography, Ruskin says, "This drawing is still over the chimney-piece of my bedroom at Brantwood.") The home-life was well ordered by Mrs. Ruskin, and moved on in a most systematic way. "In the afternoons, " continues Ruskin, "when my father returned (always punctually) from his business, he dined, at half-past four, in the front parlor, my mother sitting beside him to hear the events of the day, and give counsel and encouragement with respect to the same — chiefly the last, for my father was apt to be vexed if orders for sherry fell the least short of their due standard, even for a day or two. I was never present at this time, however, and only avouch what I relate by hearsay and prob- able conjecture; for between four and six it would have been a grave misdemeanor in me if I so much as approached the parlor door. After that, in sum- mer time, we were all in the garden as long as the MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 57 day lasted; tea under the white-heart cherry tree; or, in winter and rough weather, at six o'clock, in the drawing-room, I having my ■ cup of milk, and slice of bread-and-butter in a little recess, with a table in front of it, wholly sacred to me; and in which I remained in the evenings as an idol in a niche, while my mother knitted, and my father read to her — and to me, so far as I chose to listen." Continuing, he says : "Such being the salutary pleasures of Heme Hill, I have next with deeper gratitude to chronicle what I owe to my mother for the resolutely consistent lessons which so exercised me in the Scriptures as to make every word of them familiar to my ear in habitual music — yet in that familiarity reverenced, as transcending all thought, and ordaining all conduct. This she effected, not by her own sayings or personal authority, but simply by compelling me to read the hook thoroughly, for myself. As soon as I was able to read with fluency, she began a course of Bible work with me, which never ceased till I went to Oxford. She read alternate verses with me, watching at first every intonation of my voice, and correcting the false ones, till she made me understand the verse, if within my reach, rightly, and energetically. It might be beyond me altogether; that she did not 58 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN care about ; but she made sure that as soon as I got hold of it at all, I should get hold of it by the right end. In this way she began with the first verse of Genesis, and went straight through, to the last verse of the Apocalypse ; hard names, numbers, Levitical law, and all; and began again at Genesis the next day. "If a name was hard, the better the exercise in pronunciation; and if a chapter was tiresome, the better the lesson in patience; if loathsome, the bet- ter the lesson in faith that there was some use in its being so outspoken. After our chapters (from two to three a day, according to their length, the first thing after breakfast, and no interruption from servants allowed — none from visitors, who either joined in the reading or had to stay upstairs — and none from any visitings or excursions, except real traveling), I had to learn a few verses by heart; or repeat, to make sure I had not lost something of what was already known ; and with the chapters thus gradually possessed from the first word to the last, I had to learn the whole body of the fine old Scotch paraphrases, which are good, melodious, and forceful verse ; and to which, together with the Bible itself, I owe the first cultivation of my ear in sound." Referring again to the study of the Bible, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 59 he says : "It is strange that of all the pieces of the Bible which my mother taught me, that which cost me most to learn, and which was to my child's mind chiefly repulsive — the 119th Psalm — has now become of all the most precious to me, in its overs, flowing and glorious passion of love for the love of God, in opposition to the abuse of it by modern preachers of what they imagine to be His gospel. But it is only by deliberate effort that I recall the long morning hours of toil, as regular as sunrise, toil on both sides equal — by which, year after year, my mother forced me to learn these paraphases, and chapters (the eighth of 1st Kings being one — try it, good reader, in a leisure hour!), allowing not so much as a syllable to be missed or misplaced ; while every sentence was required to be said over and over again till she was satisfied with the accent of it. "I recollect a struggle between us of about three weeks, concerning the accent of the 'of, in the lines " 'Shall any following spring revive The ashes of the urn?' "I insisting, partly in childish obstinacy, and partly in true instinct for rhythm (being wholly careless on the subject both of urns and their contents), on reciting it with an accent of. It was not, I say, 60 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN till after three weeks' labor, that my mother got the accent lightened on the 'of and laid on the ashes to her mind. But had it taken three years she would have done it, having once undertaken to do it. And, assuredly, had she not done it — well, there's no knowing what would have happened; but I'm very thankful she did. "I have just opened my oldest (in use) Bible — a small, closely, and very neatly printed volume it is, printed in Edinburgh by Sir D. Hunter Blair and J. Bruce, Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, in 1816. Yellow now, with age, and flexible, but not unclean, with much use, except that the lower corners of the pages at 8th of 1st Kings, and 32nd Deuteronomy, are now somewhat thin and dark, the learning of these two chapters having cost me much pains. My mother's list of the chapters with which thus learned, she estab- lished my soul in life, has just fallen out of it.*' (At this point, Ruskin appends the following foot- note : "This expression in Fors has naturally been supposed by some readers to mean that my mother at this time made me vitally and evangelically religious. The fact was far otherwise. I meant only that she gave me secure ground for all future life, practical or spiritual.") MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 61 Continuing, he says : "I will take what indul- gence the incurious reader can give me, for print- ing the list thus accidentally occurrent: Exodus — Chapters 15th and 20th. 2 Samuel — Chapter 1st, from 17th verse to the end. 1 Kings — Chapter 8th. Psalms — 23rd, 32nd, 90th, 91st, 103rd, 112th, 119th, 139th. Proverbs — Chapters 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 12th. Isaiah— Chapter 58th. Matthew— Chapters 5th, 6th, 7th. Acts— Chapter 26th. 1 Corinthians — Chapters 13th, 15th. James — Chapter 4th. Revelation — Chapters 5th, 6th. "And truly, though I have picked up the elements of a little further knowledge — in mathematics, meteorology, and the like, in after life — and owe not a little to the teachings of many people, this maternal installation of my mind in that property of chapters, I count very confidently the most precious, and on the whole the one essential, part of my education." In this home-training, so thorough and so pains- taking, and at the same time gentle and loving, Ruskin counts among the best and truest blessings which attended his early days the fact that he was 62 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN taught "the perfect meaning of Peace, in thought, act, and word." Never once did he hear the voice of either father or mother raised in question with each other; nor ever did he see "an angry, or even slightly hurt or offended, glance in the eyes of either." He never heard a servant scolded by either of his parents ; and, in short, states that he never wit- nessed a moment's disorder or trouble in regard to any household matter. And so, amid these quiet, peaceful surroundings, it is not surprising that, as a child, he learned to know the meaning of peace in its fullest, truest sense. Next, he adds, was learned obedience, and faith, forming with peace a trio of virtues which were to mold and strengthen his future life. Among the blessings which attended his child- hood, Ruskin speaks of "an extreme perfection in palate and all other bodily senses, given by the utter prohibition of cake, wine, comfits, or, except in care fullest restriction, fruit; and by fine prepara- tion of what food was given me." He felt in maturer years that this early training laid the foundation for all future success ; and though deem- ing his life, during childhood days, far too lonely and uneventful, as well as too formal and luxurious, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 63 he never questioned the wisdom of his mother's methods and principles.* His parents being anxious that their son should receive the best advantages, tutors were employed until he was ready to enter Christ Church College, at Oxford, from which he graduated at the age of twenty-three. The three years of residence at Oxford, Mrs. Ruskin spent with him, "Not," says he, "because she could not part with me — still less, because she distrusted me. She came simply that she might be at hand in case of accident or sudden illness. She had always been my physician as well as my nurse ; on several occasions her timely watchfulness had saved me from the most serious danger; nor was her caution now, as will be seen, unjustified by the event. But, for the first two years of my college life, I caused her no anxiety; and my day was always happier because I could tell her at tea what- ever had pleased or profited me in it." Continuing, he says, "I count it just a little to my credit that I was not ashamed, but pleased, that my mother came to Oxford with me, to take such care of me as she *Mrs. Ruskin afterwards realized that her son had perhaps been too much sheltered and protected, and had experienced too little the hardships necessary for the development of strong manhood. In regard to this, he says : "My mother saw this herself, and but too clearly, in later years ; and whenever I did anything wrong, stupid, or hard-hearted (and I have done many things that were all three), always said, 'It is because you were too much indulged'." 64 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN could. Through all the three years of residence, during term time, she had lodging in the High Street (first in Mr. Adams' pretty house of six- teenth century woodwork) ; and my father lived alone all the week at Heme Hill, parting with wife and son at once, for the son's sake. On the Satur- day, he came down to us, and I went with him and my mother, in the old domestic way, to St. Peter's, for the Sunday morning service : otherwise they never appeared with me in public, lest my com- panions should laugh at me, or anyone else ask malicious questions concerning vintner papa and his old-fashioned wife. None of the men, through my whole college career, ever said one word in depre- cation of either of them, or in any sarcasm at my habitually spending my evenings with my mother." The deep love which he felt for her is evidenced by the willingness to make any sacrifice for her sake : "The quite happiest bit of manual work I ever did was for my mother, in the old inn at Sixt, when she alleged the stone staircase to have become unpleasantly dirty since last year. Nobody in the inn appearing to think it possible to wash it. I brought the necessary buckets of water from the yard myself, and poured them into beautiful image of Versailles waterworks down the fifteen or twenty steps of the great staircase, and with the MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 65 strongest broom I could find, cleaned every step into its corners. It was quite lovely work to dash the water and drive the mud from each, with accu- mulating splash, down to the next one." During the third year of Ruskin's Oxford term, his health became quite seriously impaired, and he needed the ministrations of the devoted mother, who nursed him tenderly and who later bore him away to Heme Hill for a month or two where with rest and abundance of fresh air he soon regained health and strength. After college days were over, the family of three extended their travels on the Continent, deriving much pleasure and profit there- from. Mrs. Ruskin felt keen disappointment that her cherished ambition would not be realized in seeing her son enter the ministry, but believed in his ability to rise to some worthy position in the world, little foreseeing, however, the eminence to which his future literary efforts would bring him. The diligent training in early life which she had bestowed, his college career, and the manifold advantage of travel, all proved to be excellent equipment for his chosen life-work. Little is recorded of Ruskin's affaires de cceur; but occasionally some reference is made to such matters, in which his mother took keen interest. One attachment, especially, caused Mrs. Ruskin 66 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN much uneasiness. This was his fondness for Adele Domecq, daughter of Mr. Ruskin's partner. She was "a graceful, oval-faced blonde," attractive and talented, but a Roman Catholic in faith, which alone debarred her in the mother's eyes as eligible to be her son's wife. To Adele he addressed son- nets, wrote long letters in French, and was for a time ardent in devotion ; but the affair finally ended, to the satisfaction of Mrs. Ruskin, in the young couple drifting apart. The elder Ruskin, after a long season of ill health, passed away, being survived for many years by his wife. Joanna Agnew, a near relative on the Ruskin side of the house, was employed by Ruskin to be a companion to his mother, who would, other- wise, have been left entirely alone. A warm attach- ment sprang up between the two women, who for seven years — until Joanna's marriage — lived to- gether in great congeniality. ;£ ;jc ^c ^c ^c ^c :£ The incompleteness of Ruskin's autobiography brings to an abrupt ending the brief story of his mother's life, which is so closely interwoven with that of her idolized son. The family record, as given by Ruskin, shows that she lived to the advanced age of ninety-one years, dying in the year 187 1. Ill MARGARET AITKEN CARLYLE MOTHER OF THOMAS CARLYLE "If there has been any good in the things I have uttered in the world's hearing, it was your voice essentially that was speaking through me!' — Thomas Carlyle. THE little market town, Ecclefechan, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where lived the Carlyle family, was typically Scotch, both in general aspect and in mode of life. A single street, on one side of which ran an open brook, was bordered by plain, unpretentious dwell- ings, presenting a cold but clean and orderly appearance, suggestive of thrift and of an un- assuming manner of living. The Carlyle home was perhaps the only one having any pretension to originality of architec- ture. It was a double house, with central arch dividing; one side being occupied by James Car- 68 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN lyle, while his brother, wbo was his partner in trade, lived in the other. In 1 79 1, James Carlyle married a distant cousin, Janet Carlyle, who died not long afterwards, leav- ing a son named John. Two years after the death of Janet Carlyle, James Carlyle married Margaret Aitken, a young woman of many fine traits of char- acter, of amiable disposition and quiet tastes. Four sons and five daughters (one of the latter named Janet for the first wife) were born to James and Margaret Carlyle. The affairs of the household were conducted by the mother with greatest economy and prudence; the father, who followed the trade of a mason, earning, when most actively at work, only one hun- dred pounds a year for the support of his large family. By skillful management, the slender in- come was wisely expended, and the home-life moved smoothly on — no allusion ever being made to poverty, for in the life of Ecclefechan the Car- lyle family was accounted prosperous. The family living consisted mainly of potatoes, oatmeal, and milk; the children were plainly but neatly dressed, and ran about the streets barefooted, con- tented, and happy. Of the necessities of life they had abundance ; of its luxuries they knew little, and felt not the lack. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 69 Of the nine children born to James and Mar- garet Carlyle, Thomas, born December 4, 1795, was the eldest. Between the mother and her first- born child there always seemed to be a peculiarly strong bond of affection and congeniality; and, in writing of her, Thomas Carlyle says, "She was a woman of, to me, the fairest descent, that of the pious, the just, and the wise." In his will, Carlyle expressed a desire that no biography of himself should be written; but recog- nizing the fact that his request would, in all prob- ability, be disregarded, later made arrangements with friends in order that, since it must be written, the biography should be authentic. And it is to his life history, and to his correspondence with his mother, that we turn to find the story of her life. When her children were quite small, they were taught by Mrs. Carlyle to read; but as she knew nothing of writing, their education under her in- struction was extremely limited. Later, however, she learned to write, for the express purpose of corresponding with the idolized son, Thomas. To the father fell the task of instructing the children in arithmetic; and at five years of age Thomas commenced the study of mathematics, having already been taught by his mother to read. Soon he was far enough advanced in his studies yo MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN to be sent to the village school. Like most of the Carlyles, he was possessed of a violent temper, and his companions in the schoolroom were not oblivious to that fact, making life, at times, quite unpleasant for him. Carlyle, himself, says that his earliest recollection was of being "in a howling rage," when only two years old, and of throwing his little brown stool at his half-brother John, who lived at his grandfather's, and occasionally came to visit his father. A leg of the stool was broken, and Thomas says that he "felt for the first time, the united pangs of loss and remorse." Mrs. Carlyle, foreseeing the unhappiness in store for Thomas if his temper were not restrained, made him promise never to return a blow. It is said that he tried faithfully to keep this promise; and to the ever- watchful care of his mother "for body and soul," he always said that he "owed ceaseless gratitude." Of the home-life, and of his parents, Carlyle writes: "It was not a joyful life, but what life is? Yet a safe and quiet one, above most others, or any other I have witnessed, a wholesome one. We were taciturn rather than talkative ; but if little was said, that little had generally a meaning. More re- markable man than my father I have never met in my journey through life; sterling sincerity in thought, word, and deed; most quiet, but capable MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 71 of blazing into whirlwinds when needful ; and such a flash of just insight and brief natural eloquence and emphasis, true to every feature of it, as I have never known in any other. Humor of a most grim Scandinavian type he occasionally had, wit rarely or never — too serious for wit — my excellent mother with perhaps the deeper piety in most senses had also the most sport. No man of my day, or hardly any man, can have had better parents." As Thomas grew older, the comradeship between mother and son grew stronger, while the father was always held in awe. "We all had to complain," says Carlyle, "that we dared not freely love our father. His heart seemed as if walled in. My mother has owned to me that she could never understand him, and that her affection and admira- tion of him were obstructed. It seemed as if an atmosphere of fear repelled us from him, me espe- cially. My heart and tongue played freely with my mother." Both parents were exceedingly ambitious for the education of Thomas, so in the fall of 1809, when he had reached the age of fourteen years, it was decided that he should enter the University at Edin- burgh. Under the guardianship of an elder lad, he was to walk the entire distance of one hundred miles, as the limited family purse did not admit of 72 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN coach-hire. Fifty-seven years later he wrote: "How strangely vivid, how remote and wonderful, tinged with the hues of far-off love and sadness, is that journey to me now, after fifty-seven years of time ! My mother and father walking with me in the dark frosty November morning through the village to set us on our way — my dear and loving mother, her tremulous affection . . . . " Life in Edinburgh was full of new and interest- ing experiences ; but, in order to secure the coveted education, Carlyle was compelled to live in a most frugal manner, being unable to afford other than the simplest food. Potatoes, oatmeal, and eggs, were sent occasionally from home by the loving mother, to supplement the scanty fare. Destined by his parents to become a minister, and knowing this to be the most ardent desire of their life, Carlyle set about to prepare himself for that calling, realizing all the while that he did not have "the least enthusiasm for that business." In fact, he was aware, even then, that "grave pro- hibitory doubts were gradually rising ahead." Leaving college with still before him the intent of entering the ministry, Carlyle accepted a tutor- ship at Annan. The only redeeming feature con- nected with this position was that he was now much nearer to his home, and the mother to whom MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 73 he was most tenderly devoted. Annan, with its un- pleasant memories of early schooldays, he heartily detested; and when not engaged in teaching, he shut himself up among his books. Amid these gloomy surroundings, the only gleam of brightness that cheered his weary existence was the corres- pondence with his mother, his love for whom is said, by his biographer, Froude, to have been "the strongest personal passion which he experienced through all his life." James Carlyle, having retired from active busi- ness in Ecclefechan, the Carlyle family moved to Mainhill, a farm two miles distant, in a bleak and - cheerless locality. Here, in a low, whitewashed cottage, consisting of three rooms, lived the father, mother, and eight children; the father and sons cultivating the little farm, while the mother and daughters attended to household duties, and cared for poultry and cows, assisting also in the field at -, harvest time. Thomas spent his holidays at home, and it was at Mainhill that he "first learned Ger- man, studied 'Faust' in a dry ditch, and completed his translation of 'Wilhelm Meister'." The correspondence between mother and son, which continued whenever he was absent from home, was not voluminous on her part; for Mar- garet Carlyle only learned to write after she had 74 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN reached mature years, and it was no easy matter for her to pen even a short letter. But to her, no sacrifice was too great to be made for her be- loved "Tom"; and a like affection was returned by him. Whatever he earned — however little the amount — he was eager to share with her. She was the one person who believed in him, prayed for him in agony when she thought him unbelieving, and in a transport of joy when she thought him safe in belief. She became ill if she did not hear from him as often as she expected; and his letters to her were treasured next to her Bible. At the end of two years, Carlyle received an appointment at Kirkcaldy, and here life was to some extent more pleasant than at Annan. He, however, "hated schoolmastering" to such a degree that the new position was liked by him far less than he would admit to his mother, who rejoiced to think that he was now situated amid more con- genial surroundings. Margaret Carlyle was a Calvinist of the most pronounced type, and the spiritual welfare of her children was her constant concern. The eldest son was the object of her chief est hopes, and she grieved to see that he had no inclination to be a minister, which from his infancy had been her great desire. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 75 The following letter is most characteristic: Mainhill: June 10, 1817 Dear Son: I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines, as you will get it free. I long to have a craik [familiar talk], and look forward to August, trusting to see thee once more, but in hope the meantime. Oh, Tom, mind the golden season of youth, and remember your Creator in the days of youth. Seek God while He may be found. Call upon him while he is near. We hear that the world by wisdom knew not God. Pray for his presence with you and His counsel to guide you. Have you got through the Bible yet? If you have, read it again. I hope you will not weary, and may the Lord open your understanding. I have no news to tell you, but thank God we are all in an ordinary way. I hope you are well. I thought you would have written me before now. I received your present and was very proud of it I called it "my son's venison." Do write as soon as this comes to hand and tell us all your news. I am glad you are so contented in your place. We ought all to be thankful for our places in these distressing times, for I dare say they are felt keenly. We send you a piece of ham and a minding of butter, as I am sure yours is done before now. Tell us about it in your next, and if anything is wanting. Good night, Tom, for it is a stormy night, and I must away to the byre to milk. Now, Tom, be sure to tell me about your chapters. No more from Your Old Minnie 76 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Letters from other members of the family came frequently, also, to the absent brother, for the Carlyles were "a clannish folk" ; and they felt not only deep affection for each other, but an increas- ing pride in the one of their number whose scholarly gifts they recognized and held in high estimation. These letters from home give an interesting picture of country life at Mainhill. The family was an industrious one — the younger children attending school, and helping with home duties ; while the older children assisted in the cultivation of the farm. Such spare time as was obtainable in this busy life, was given over to the reading of history, or of Scott's novels, or books of like nature, from the very limited library. In the summer of 1817, the mother, overburdened with the cares and duties of farm life, suffered a heavy illness. For a time her physical condition was very serious, and this state of health finally told upon her mental faculties, which became over- clouded to such an extent that it was found neces- sary to take her away from home for a few weeks for treatment. For this removal from home, she never fully forgave the family, always afterward referring to it in her humorous way. With the return of physical strength, she soon, however, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 77 regained vigor of mind, and resumed her former active, industrious manner of life. A letter to Thomas Carlyle from his brother, John, speaks of the mother's improved condition, after her severe illness. Mainhill: September 16, 1818 Dear Brother : We received yours and it told of your safe arrival at Kirkcaldy. Our mother has grown better every day since you left us. She is as steady as ever she was, has been upon haystacks three or four times, and has been at church every Sabbath since she came home, behaving always very decently. Also she has given over talking and singing, and spends some of her time consulting Ralph Erskine. She sleeps every night, and hinders no person to sleep, but can do with less than the generality of peo- ple. In fact, we may conclude that she is as wise as could be expected. She has none of the hypocritical mask with which some people clothe their sentiments. One day, having met Agg Byers, she says: "Weel, Agg, lass, I've never spoken t'ye sin ye stole our coals. I'll gie ye advice : never steal nae more." In a letter from Alexander Carlyle there is the following allusion to a gift from Thomas : The box which contained my mother's bonnet came a day or two ago. She is very well pleased with it, though my father thought it too gaudy, but she proposes writing to you herself. 78 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN All idea of entering the ministry had now been abandoned by Carlyle. In a note to a friend, he said : "With me, it [the ministry] was never much in favor, though my parents much wished it, as I knew well. Finding that I had objections, my father, with a magnanimity which I admired and admire, left me frankly to my own guidance in that matter, as did my mother, perhaps still more lovingly, though not so silently." In December, 1818, Carlyle left Kirkcaldy for Edinburgh, and a letter from his mother expresses, at this time, her continued solicitude for his wel- fare, both temporal and spiritual: Mainhill: January 3, 1819 Dear Son : I received yours in due time, and was glad to hear you were well. I hope you will be healthier, moving about in the city, than in your former way. Health is a valuable privilege; try to improve on it then. The time is short. Another year has commenced. Time is on the wing, and flies swiftly. Seek God with all your heart; and oh, my dear son, cease not to pray for His counsel in all his ways. Fear not the world, you will be provided for as He sees meet for you. As a sincere friend, whom you are always dear to, I beg you do not neglect reading a part of your Bible daily, and may the Lord open your eyes to see wondrous things out of his law ! MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 79 But it is now two o'clock in the morning, and a bad pen, bad ink, and I am bad at writing. I will drop it, and add no more, but remain. Your loving mother Peggie Carlyle "Schoolmastering" had, by this time, become too distasteful to him to continue longer at it, and, after considering civil engineering, for which his love of mathematics gave him natural inclination, Carlyle decided to commence the study of law. His family, although silently disapproving the step he had taken, rendered what assistance they could give toward his support while thus engaged. Fre- quently there came from home supplies of oat- meal, butter, potatoes, etc., and at times clothing was also sent to him. His soiled linen was returned for the mother to wash and mend, simple gifts often accompanying the bundle. Money was scarce, and Carlyle had necessarily to school him- self to thrifty, self-denying habits; but with reso- lution he faced the situation which confronted him. One hundred pounds had been saved from his earnings ; and this, supplemented by assistance from home, must serve him for a long time. As his first exercise in the Divinity School, he had written a sermon on the salutary effects of "afflictions." His biographer, Froude, says: "He 80 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN was beginning now, in addition to the problem of living which he had to solve, to learn what afflic- tion meant. He was attacked with dyspepsia, which never wholly left him, and in those early years assumed its most torturing form; 'like a rat gnawing at the pit of his stomach/ His disorder working on his natural irritability, found escape in expressions which showed, at any rate, that he was attaining a mastery of language." In spite, however, of the attendant woes occasioned by ill-health and insufficient means, Carlyle was not losing heart, for he liked his new profession, and was studying diligently. Writing to his mother, he says : "The law is what I some- times think I was intended for naturally. I am afraid it takes several hundreds to become an advocate ; but for this I should commence the study of it with great hopes of success. We shall see whether it is possible. One of the first advocates of the day raised himself from being a discon- solate preacher to his present eminence. There- fore, I entreat you not to be uneasy about me. I see none of my fellows with whom I am very anxious to change places. Tell the boys not to let their hearts be troubled for me. I am a stubborn dog, and evil fortune shall not break my heart, or bend it either, as I hope. I know not how to speak MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 81 about the washing, which you offer so kindly. Surely you thought, five years ago, that this trouble- some washing and baking was all over; and now to recommence ! I can scarcely think of troubling you; yet the clothes are ill-washed here; and if the box be going and coming anyway, perhaps you can manage it." In order to make his small amount of capital hold out during the term in Edinburgh, Carlyle attempted to obtain a few pupils, but this measure did not prove successful. He was, how- ever, employed by Dr. Brewster (afterward Sir David) to assist in work on an encyclopedia, and this brought him in about two pounds a week, enabling him to live in greater comfort. Letters from his mother continued to come, bring- ing encouragement and loving counsel. Hearing of the death of an aunt, he wrote the following: Edinburgh, Monday, March 29th, 1819 My Dear Mother: I am so much obliged to you for the affectionate con- cern which you express for me in that long letter that I cannot delay to send you a few brief words by way of reply. I was affected by the short notice you gave me of Aunt Mary's death, and the short reflections with which you close it. It is true, my dear mother, "that we must all soon follow her" — such is the unalterable and not 82 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN pleasing doom of men. Then it is well for those who, at that awful moment which is before every one, shall be able to look back with calmness and forward with hope. But I need not dwell upon this solemn subject. It is familiar to the thoughts of every one who has any thought. I am rather afraid I have not been quite regular in reading that best of books which you recommend to me. However, last night I was reading upon my favorite Job, and I hope to do better in time to come. I entreat you to believe that I am sincerely desirous of being a good man; and though we may differ in some unimportant particulars, yet I firmly trust that the same power which created us with imperfect faculties will pardon the errors of every one (and none are without them) who seeks truth and righteousness with a simple heart. You need not fear my studying too much. In fact, my prospects are so unsettled that I do not often sit down to books with all the zeal I am capable of. You need not think I am fretful. I have long accustomed myself to look upon the future with a sedate aspect, and at any rate my hopes have never yet failed me. A French author, D'Alembert (one of the few persons who deserve the honorable epithet of honest man), whom I was lately reading, remarks that one who devoted his life to learn- ing ought to carry for his motto : "Liberty, Truth, Poverty"; for he that fears the latter can never have the former. This should not prevent one from using every honest effort to attain a comfortable situation in life ; it says only that the best is dearly bought by base conduct, and the worst is not worth mourning over. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 83 We shall speak of all these matters more fully in sum- mer, for I am meditating just now to come down and stay awhile with you, accompanied with a cargo of books — Italian, German, and others. You will give me yonder little room, and you will waken me every morning about five or six o'clock. Then such study. I shall delve in the garden, too, and in a word, become not only the wisest, but the strongest man in these regions. This is all claver, but it pleases one. My dear mother, yours most affectionately Thomas Carlyle The name of D'Alembert had never come within the scope of Mrs. Carlyle's knowledge, and fearing that her son might be entering into perilous paths, she wrote to him immediately: Oh, my dear son, I would pray for a blessing on your learning. I beg you with all the feeling of an affectionate mother that you study the Word of God, which He has graciously put in our hands that it may powerfully reach our hearts, that we may discern it in its true light. God made man after His own image, therefore he be- hoved to be without any imperfect faculties. Beware, my dear son, of such thoughts ; let them not dwell on your mind. God forbid ! But I dare say you will not care to read this scrawl. Do make religion your great study, Tom ; if you repent it, I will bear the blame forever. And his state of mind in regard to religion, was, indeed, now uncertain and gloomy. Froude says .... "Carlyle was thinking as much as his mother 84 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN of religion, but the form in which his thoughts were running was not hers. He was painfully see- ing that all things were not wholly as he had been taught to think them ; the doubts which had stopped his divinity career were blackening into thunder- clouds; and all his reflections were colored by dys- pepsia." He was entering now upon the "three most miserable years of my life," and in addition to religious doubts and fears, his intended profes- sion was, at this time, becoming distasteful to him. England and Scotland were in an unhappy polit- ical state; many people were without work, and their families on the verge of starvation; and, altogether, conditions and circumstances during these unhappy years were calculated to leave im- pressions upon Carlyle which may be traced throughout his writings. A summer spent at home, after the session at Edinburgh, did not bring hap- piness nor relief from doubt and deep question- ings. The pious family at Mainhill accepted the Bible "as a direct communication from Heaven," at the same time reposing a calm and implacable faith in the Westminster Confession, and could little sympathize with the unhappy frame of mind in which Thomas was now living. He says that he "was tortured by the freaks of an imagination of extraordinary and wild activity," which made MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 85 him most miserable. Unable to read, he wandered restlessly over the moors; the father, with good judgment, leaving him to himself, but the agonizing mother could not keep back her pleadings and lamentations, for her eldest son was the chief object of her love and ambition. In November, 1819, Thomas returned to Edin- burgh, and resumed the study of law. Writing to his mother in a more cheerful vein, he says : "The law I find to be a most complicated subject, yet I like it pretty well and feel that I shall like it better as I proceed. Its great charm in my eyes is that no mean compliances are requisite for prospering in it." The winter proved to be far from pleasant, for a severe attack of dyspepsia gave him much un- easiness and alarmed the family greatly as to his physical condition. A letter from his brother John, dated Mainhill, February, 1820, says : "Your father and mother and all of us are extremely anxious that you should come home directly, if pos- sible, if you think you can come without danger. And we trust that, notwithstanding the bitterness of last summer, you will still find it emphatically a home. My mother bids me call upon you to do so, by every tie of affection, and by all that is sacred. 86 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN She esteems seeing you again, and administering comfort to you, as her highest felicity." The mother knew well his disposition, and feared the effect of his despondent and irritable condition of mind. She had early described him as "gey ill to live wi'," but no one knew quite so well how to deal with his peculiarities and idiosyn- crasies as she, nor could so lovingly and anxiously foresee and meet his wants. The attack finally passed off, and Thomas, having recovered some- what both health and spirits, remained in Edin- burgh, diligently pursuing his studies. In the spring of this year the following letter came to his mother: Edinburgh, March 29th, 1820 To you, my dear mother, I can never be sufficiently grateful, not only for the common kindness of a mother, but for the unceasing watchfulness with which, you strove to instil virtuous principles into my young mind; and though we are separated at present, and may be still more widely separated, I hope the lessons which you taught will never be effaced from my memory. I cannot say how I have fallen into this train of thought, but the days of childhood arise with so many pleasing recollections, and shine so brightly across the tempests and inquietudes of succeeding times, that I feel unable to resist the impulse. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 87 You already know that I am pretty well as to health, and also that I design to visit you again before many months have elapsed. I cannot say that my prospects, have got much brighter since I left you; the aspect of the future is still as unsettled as it ever was; but some degree of patience is behind, and hope, the charmer, that "springs eternal in the human breast," is yet here likewise, I am not of a humor to care very much for good or evil fortune, so far as concerns myself; the thought that my somewhat uncertain condition gives you uneasiness chiefly grieves me. Yet I would not have you despair of your ribe of a boy. He mill do something yet. He is a shy stingy soul, and very likely has a higher notion of his parts than others have. But on the other hand, he is not incapable of diligence. He is harmless, and possesses the virtue of his country — thrift; so that, after all, things will yet be right in the end. My love to all the little ones. Your affectionate son T. Cari,yi^ In December of the same year, another letter showed him to be still battling with conflicting doubts and beliefs — writing a little at times, and keeping always before him the determination which his mother's unwavering faith in him sus- tained, "to do something yet." I know full well and feel deeply that you entertain the most solicitous anxiety about my temporal, and still more about my eternal welfare; as to the former of which, I 88 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN have still hopes that all your tenderness will yet be repaid; and as to the latter, though it becomes not the human worm to boast, I would fain persuade you not to enter- tain so many doubts. Your character and rriine are far more similar than you imagine, and our opinions too, though clothed in different garbs, are, I well know, still analogous at bottom. I respect your religious sentiments, and honor you for feel- ing them more than if you were the highest woman in the world without them. Be easy, I entreat you, on my account; the world will use me better than before; and if it should not, let us hope to meet in that upper country when the vain fever of life is gone by, in the country where all darkness will be light, and where the exercise of our affections will not be thwarted by the infirmities of human nature any more. Brewster will give me articles enough. Meanwhile my living here is not to cost me anything, at least for a sea- son more or less. I have two hours of teaching, which both gives me a call to walk and brings in four guineas a month. A few weeks later he wrote again : January 30th, 1821 My employment, you are aware, is still very fluctuating, but this I trust will improve. I am advancing, I think, though leisurely, and at least I feel no insuperable doubts of getting honest bread, which is all I want. For as to fame and all that, I see it already to be nothing better than a meteor, a will-o'-the-wisp which leads one on through quagmires and pitfalls to catch an object which, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 89 when we have caught it, turns out to be nothing. I am happy to think in the meantime that you do not feel uneasy about my future destiny. Providence, as you observe, will order it better or worse, and with His award, so nothing mean or wicked lie before me, I shall study to rest satisfied. It is a striking thing, and alarming to those who are at ease in the world, to think how many living things that had breath and hope within them when I left Ecclefechan are now numbered with the clods of the valley! Surely there is something obstinately stupid in the heart of man, or the flight of three-score years, and the poor joys or poorer cares of this our pilgrimage would never move as they do. Why do we fret and murmur, and toil, and con- sume ourselves for objects so transient and frail? Is it that the soul, living here as her prison-house, strives after something boundless like herself, and finding it nowhere, still renews the search? Surely we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But I must not pursue these specu- lations, though they force themselves upon us sometimes even without our asking. This gloomy period of Carlyle's life was happily drawing to a close, and brighter days were dawn- ing. From the dear mother in the little farmhouse came encouraging words: Mainhill: March 21st, 1821 Son Tom: I received your kind and pleasant letter. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to hear of your welfare. Keep up your heart, my brave boy. You ask kindly after my 9c MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN health. I complain as little as possible. When the day is cheerier it has great effect on me. But on the whole I am as well as I can expect, thank God. I have sent t* little butter and a few cakes with a box to bring home your clothes. Send them all home that I may wash and sort them once more. Oh, man could I but write! I'll tell ye a' when we meet, but I must in the meantime content myself. Do send me a long letter; it revives me greatly; and tell me honestly if you read your chapter e'en and morn, lad. You mind I hod if not your hand, I hod your foot of it. Tell me if there is anything you want in particular. I must run to pack the box, so I am Your affectionate mother Margaret Carlyle It was during the year 1821 that Carlyle finally emerged from the conflict with doubt, and dated the time of his "spiritual new birth." From that period he states that he "began to be a. new man." An intimate friend, Edward Irving, was through- out this season of unbelief a faithful counselor and confidant. Of his friendship, Carlyle writes : "Such friend as I never had again or before in this world, at heart constant till he died." It is needless to say that his mother's heart re- joiced greatly in her son's change of attitude toward things spiritual ; and his decision was a source of profound satisfaction to her. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 91 Carlyle's literary productions were now receiving more recognition than formerly, and his financial condition accordingly was much improved. With this to encourage him, he spent more freely of his income in sending gifts to the father and mother, who had been ever thoughtful of his temporal wel- fare when his meager income scarcely afforded a living. On one occasion he sent to his father a pair of spectacles, and to his mother "a little sovereign to keep the fiend out of hussif." In an accom- panying note, he wrote his mother: You will tell me I am poor and have so few of these coins ; but I am going to have plenty by-and-by ; and if I had but one I cannot see how I could purchase more enjoyment with it than if I shared it with you. Be not in want of anything, I entreat you, that I can possibly get for you. It would be hard indeed if in the autumn of life — the spring and summer of which you have spent well in taking care of us — we should know what would add to your frugal enjoyments and not procure it. The stockings and other things you sent me are of additional value in my eyes, as proofs of the unwearied care with which you continue to watch over me. I still hope to see the day when I may acknowledge all this more effectually. I think you wanted a bonnet when I was at home. Do not buy any until after the box returns. Through his friend, Edward Irving, Carlyle in 1822 was offered a position of tutor to the two sons 92 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Buller, of London (Mr. Buller being a retired English gentleman of eminence). The salary was to 'be two hundred pounds a year, which, in spite of a dislike for "schoolmastering," could not be disregarded, as times were hard and money difficult to obtain. In writing to his mother at this time, Carlyle says, with reference to his new position and the mistress of the house: "The woman, Irving says, is a gallant, accomplished person, and will respect one well. He warned her that I had seen little of life, and was disposed to be rather high in the humor if not well used. The plan, if I like it and be fit for it, will be advantageous for me in many respects. I shall have time for study and convenience for it and plenty of cash. At the same time, as it is uncertain, I do not make it my lower anchor by any means. If it go to nothing alto- gether, I shall snap my finger and thumb in the face of all the Indian judges of the earth, and return to my poor desk and quill with as hard a heart as ever. A later letter gives glimpses of his daily life, showing him to be pleased with the position, yet uncertain as to keeping it for any length of time: MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 93 3 Moray Street: Edinburgh, June 2, 1822 It will give you pleasure to know that I continue im- proving in that most important of qualities, good health. The bathing does me great good, and you need be under no apprehension of my drowning. Unfortunately my mode of sleeping is too irregular to admit of my bathing con- stantly before breakfast. Small noises disturb me and keep me awake, though I always get to sleep at last, and happily such disturbances occur but rarely. Some two weeks ago I had a little adventure with an ugly messan, which a crazy half-pay captain had thought proper to chain in his garden, or rather, grass-plot, about twenty yards from my window. The pug felt unhappy in its new situation, began repining very pitifully in its own way; at one time snarling, grinning, yelping, as if it cared not whether it were hanged then or tomorrow ; at another, whining, howling, screaming, as if it meant to excite the compassion of the world at large — this at intervals for the whole night. By five o'clock in the morning, I would have given a guinea of gold for its hind legs firm in my right hand by the side of a stone wall. Next day the crazy captain removed it, being threatened by the street at large with prosecution if he did not. But on the evening of the second day, being tired of keeping the cur in his kitchen, he again let it out, and just as I was falling asleep about one o'clock, the same musical, "most musical, most melancholy" serenade aroused me from my vague dreamings. 94 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN I listened about half an hour, then rose indignantly, put on my clothes, went out, and charged the watchman to put an instant stop to the accursed thing. The watchman could not for the world interfere with a gentleman's rest at that hour, but next morning he would certainly, etc. etc. I asked to be shown the door, and pulling the crazy captain's bell about six times, his servant at length awoke and inquired with a tremulous voice, what was it? I alluded to the dog and demanded the instant, the total, the everlasting removal of it, or tomorrow I would see whether justice was in Edinburgh, or the shadow of British law in force. "Do you hear that?" said the Irish knight of the rattle and lantern. She heard it and obeyed, and no wretched messan has since disturbed my slumbers. You ask about my home-coming; but this must be a very uncertain story for awhile. I cannot count on any such thing till the Buller people are arrived, and in the event of my farther engaging with them, my period of absence must of course be short. However, there is good and cheap conveyance to Dumfries daily, and it shall go hard if I do not steal a week or so to spend at home. It is the dearest blessing of my life that I have you to write to and care for me. I am in very fair health considering everything; about a hundred times as well as I was last year, and as happy as you ever saw me. In fact, I want nothing but steady health of body (which I shall get in time) to be one of the comfortablest persons of my acquaintance. I have also books to write and things to say and do in this world which few wot of. This has the air of vanity, but it is not altogether so. I consider that my Almighty MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 95 Author has given me some glimmerings of superior under- standing and mental gifts ; and I should reckon it the worst treason against Him to neglect improving and using to the very utmost of my power these His bountiful mercies. At some future day it shall go hard, but I will stand above these mean men whom I have never yet stood with. But we need not prate of this. I am very much satisfied with my teaching. In fact, it is a pleasure instead of a task. The Bullers are quite another sort of boys than I have been used to, and treat me in another sort of manner than tutors are used to. When I think of General Dixon's brats, and how they used to vex me, I often wonder I had not broken their backs at once, and left them. This would not have done, to be sure; but the temptation was considerable. The elder Buller is one of the cleverest boys I have ever seen. He delights to enquire and argue and be demolished. Ke follows me almost nigh home every night. Very likely I may bargain finally with the people, but I have no certain intimation on the subject; and in fact, I do not care immensely whether or not. There is bread for the diligent to be gained in a thousand ways. It was finally decided that Carlyle should con- tinue as tutor in the Buller family, and writing to his mother he said: Tea I now consume with urns and china and splendid apparatus all around me, yet I often turn from these grandeurs to the little "down the house" at Mainhill, where kind affection makes amends for all deficiencies. 96 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Often there, my dear mother, in coming years, we shall yet drink tea there, enjoy our pipes and friendly chat together, and pity all the empty gorgeousness of the earth. In October, after a brief visit to Mainhill from the loved Thomas, his mother received the follow- ing letter, showing that her anxiety as to his spirit- ual state had again been aroused: Edinburgh, November 14th, 1822 You have not sent me a line since I went away. I am not surprised at this, knowing how you are circumstanced, but it keeps me very much in the dark with regard to your situation. I can only hope you are in your usual state of health and spirits, fighting as formerly against the inconveniences of your present life, and brightening all its dreariness by the hopes of a better. There is nothing else that can keep the happiest of us in a state of peace, worth calling by the name of peace ; and "with this anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast" the unhappiest man alive is to be envied. You think I am a very thoughtless character, careless of eternity, and taken up with vain concerns of time alone. Depend on it, my dear mother, you misjudge me. These thoughts are rooted in every reflecting mind, in mine perhaps more deeply than. in many that make more noise about them; and of all the qualities that I love in you, there is none I so much love as that feeling of devotion which elevates you as much above the meanness of ordinary persons in your situation which gives to the humble circumstances of your lot a dignity unborrowed of earthly grandeur as well as far superior to MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 97 the highest state of it; and which ornaments a mind un- trained in worldly education and accomplishments with sentiments after which mere literature and philosophy with all their pretensions would forever strive in vain. The dress of our opinions, as I have often told you, may be different, because our modes of life have been different, but fundamentally our sentiments are completely the same. We should tolerate each other, therefore, in this world, where all is weak and obscure, trusting meanwhile that we shall comprehend all things more perfectly in that clearer land where faith is changed into vision; where the dim though fervent longings of our minds from this dark prison-house are changed for a richness of actual grandeur beyond what the most ardent imagination has ventured to conceive. Long may these hopes be yours, my dearest mother. Whoever entertains them is richer than kings. The Bullers are gone to college a few days ago, and I do not go near them till two o'clock in the afternoon. By this means I do not only secure a competent space of time for my own studies, but find also that my stomach troubles me a good deal less after breakfast than it used to do when I had a long hurried walk to take before it. My duties are of an easy and brief sort. I dine at half- past three with a small and very civil youth, little Reginald, contracted into Reggy, and I have generally done with the whole against six. I find Jack immersed in study when I return. He cooks the tea for us, and we afterwards devote ourselves to business till between eleven and twelve. 98 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN My brotherly love to all the younkers about home, to each by name. Why do they never write? Will you not write ? I am, ever affectionately your son — thy son! T. Cari^yle On December 4, he wrote: It is already past twelve o'clock, and I am tired and sleepy, but I cannot go to rest without answering the kind little note which you sent me, and acknowledging these new instances of your unwearied attention to my interests and comfort. I am almost vexed at these shirts and stock- ings. My dear mother, why will you expend on super- fluities the pittance I intended for very different ends? I again assure you, and would swear to it if needful, that you cannot get me such enjoyment with it in any way as by convincing me that it is adding to your own. Do not therefore frustrate my purposes. I send you a small screed of verses which I made some time ago. I fear you will not care a droit for them, though the subject is good — the deliverance of Switzerland from tyranny by the hardy mountaineers at the battle of Morgarten above five hundred years ago. This is my birthday. I am now seven-and-twenty years of age. What an unprofitable lout I am! What have I done in this world to make my good place in it, or reward those that had the trouble of my upbringing? Great part of an ordinary life-time is gone by, and here am I, poor trifler, still sojourning in Mesech, still doing nothing in the tents of Kedar. May the great Father of all give me strength, to do better in time remaining, to be of service MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 99 in the good cause in my day and generation; and having finished the work which was given me to do, to lie down and sleep in peace and purity in the hope of a happy rising. The first of January brought to Carlyle a letter from his father, including the following greeting from his mother: Your mother wishes you a happy new year, and she wishes it may be the best you ever have seen, and the worst you ever may see. Her eldest son was still, as always, uppermost in her mind, and he in return, never failed to regard her first; and was constantly thinking of ways to satisfy her needs and desires. Although she might write back, "Dear bairn, I want for nothing,'' he would quickly reply "she must understand that she could not gratify him so much as by enabling him to promote her comfort." Life [he wrote] is still in prospect to Jack [a brother] and me. We are not yet what we hope to be. Jack is going to become a large gawsie broad-faced practiser of physic, to ride his horse in time, to give aloes by the rule, to make money and to be a large man; while I, in spite of all my dyspepsias and nervousness and hypochondrias, am still bent on being a very meritorious sort of character, rather noted in the world of letters, if it so please Provi- dence, and useful, I hope, whithersoever I go in the good old cause, for which I beg you to believe that I cordially ioo MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN agree with you in feeling my chief interest, however we may differ in our modes of expressing it In the spring of 1823, the Bullers having re- moved to Kinnaird House, a handsome residence in Perthshire, Carlyle wrote as follows to his mother : This letter may operate as a spur on the diligence of my beloved and valuable correspondents at Mainhill. There is a small blank made in the sheet for a purpose which you will notice. I beg you to accept the little picture which fills it without any murmuring. It is a poor testi- monial of the grateful love I should ever bear you. I hope to get a moderate command of money in the course of my life's operations. I long for it chiefly that I may testify to those dear to me what affection I entertain for them. In the meantime we ought to be thankful that we have never known what it was to be in fear of want, but have always had wherewith to gratify one another by these little acts of kindness, which are worth more than millions unblest by a true feeling between the giver and receiver. You must buy yourself any little odd things you want, and think I enjoy it along with you, if it add to your comfort. I do indeed enjoy it along with you. I should be a dog if I did not. I am grateful to you for kindness and true affection such as no other heart will ever feel for me. I am proud of my mother, though she is neither rich nor learned. If I ever forget to love and reverence her, I must cease to be a creature myself worth remembering. Often, my dear mother, in solitary, pensive moments does it come across me like the cold shadow of MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 101 death that we two must part in the course of time. I shudder at the thought, and find no refuge except in humbly trusting that the great God will surely appoint us a meeting in that far country to which we are tending. May He bless you forever, my good mother, and keep up in your heart those sublime hopes which at present serve as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide your footsteps through the wilderness of life. We are in His hands. He will not utterly forsake us. Let us trust in Him. To John Carlyle, a few days later, he wrote: Tell our mother I have a fire every night, and that all things I want are supplied me abundantly. To the mother, ever solicitous about his health, did Carlyle write freely and fully, not only con- cerning health, but regarding- all personal matters, including his hopes and aspirations; at the same time apologizing to his father for constantly com- plaining of ill health: To the latter he said: I often grieve for the uneasiness my complaining costs you and my dear mother, who is of feebler texture in that respect than you. By this time she must be beginning to understand me; to know that when I shout "murder" I am not always being killed. The truth is, complaint is the natural source of uneasiness, and I have none that I care to complain to but you. After all I am not so miserable as you would think. My health is better than 102 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN it was last year, but I have lost all patience with it; and whenever any retrograde movement comes in view, I get quite desperate in the matter, being determined that I must get well — cost what it will. On days when moder- ately well I feel as happy as others; happier perhaps, for sweet is pleasure after pain. Carlyle was now rapidly advancing in the liter- ary world. He had read enormously in a wide range of English, German, and French literature; and was well fitted to put his knowledge to valuable use. His "Life of Schiller" had been completed, and his translation of "Wilhelm Meister," which had been published, had brought him into favorable notice. He was at this time in London, with the Bullers, and the family at Mainhill was deeply absorbed in his first book. His translation of Goethe's novel did not fail to meet with appreciation in this simple Calvinistic home, which made no pretensions to lit- erary criticism. Young and old alike read it, and rejoiced in the achievement of the scholar of the family — the mother, perhaps, giving it more time and thought, her heart thrilling as she realized in a measure the fulfillment of her long-cherished hopes. A letter from his brother John is of especial interest : MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 103 Mainhill: June 24 You did well to send our father the neckerchief and tobacco with the spluchian, for he was highly pleased at the sight of them. The shawl our mother says, suits very well, though she has no particular need of one at present. She bids me tell you she can never repay you for the kindness you have all along shown her, and that she has advices about religion to give you, the best of gifts in her estimation that she has to offer. She is sitting here as if under some charm, reading "Meister," and has nearly got through the second volume. Though we are often re- peating Hall Foster's denouncement against readers of "novels," she still continues to persevere. She does not relish the character of the women, and especially of Philnia : "They are so wanton." She can not well tell what it is that interests her. I defer till the next time I write you to give you a full account of the impression it has made upon us all, for we have not got it fairly studied yet. We are unanimous in thinking it should succeed. To his mother, Carlyle wrote briefly: "Meister," I understand, is doing very well. Jack tells me you are reading "Meister." This surprises me. If I did not recollect your love for me, I should not be able to account for it. And well might the much-loved son say to his devoted mother "that her love was such as no other heart would ever feel for him." In after years, when all England was praising Carlyle, and his fame had extended beyond the io4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN seas, no days were quite so precious in memory as those days when he and his mother rode together over the barren moors of old Scotland, smoking their pipes, while she told him she had read through "Wilhelm Meister," and the "French Revolution/' and that if the depths of their meaning did not quite come within the bounds of her understand- ing, they were, nevertheless, grand books because "her Tom" wrote them. For Carlyle this loyal de- votion was "the one eternal spring in a life that had much of Sahara in it!" The connection with the Buller family was at length severed, and Carlyle rejoiced in the free- dom, which gave more time for literary pursuits, in which he was now deeply engrossed. Mrs. Carlyle's health, with advancing years, had become impaired, and she in turn now received admonitions for her own welfare ; most tenderly and affectionately did Thomas write: Birmingham : August 29, 1824 I must suggest some improvements in your diet and mode of life which might be of service to you, who I know too well have much to suffer on your own part, though your affection renders you so exclusively anxious about me. You will say that you cannot be fashed. Oh, my mother, if you did but think of what value your health and comfort are to us all, you would never talk so. Are we not all bound to you by sacred and indissoluble ties? MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 105 Am I not so bound more than any other? Who was it that nursed me and watched me in frowardness and sick- ness from the earliest dawn of my existence to this hour? My mother. Who is it that has struggled for me in pain and sorrow with undespairing diligence, that has for me been up early and down late, caring for me, laboring for me, unweariedly assisting me? My mother. Who is the one that never shrunk from me in my desolation, that never tired of my despondencies, or shut up by a look or tone of impatience, the expression of my real or imaginary griefs? Who is that loves me and will love me forever with an affection which no chance, no misery, no crime of mine can do away? It is you, my mother. When, in the fall of 1824, Carlyle unexpectedly went for a short visit to Paris, the entire house- hold was under severe restraint until a letter came announcing his safe arrival. Nobody thought of laughing or singing, and any sign of cheerfulness was reproached by the mother as "lightness of heart." At the close of the year, when he had re- turned to London, he received the following letter: Mainhill: December 18, 1824 Dear Son: I take this opportunity to thank you for your unvarying kindness, though I fear it will hardly be read. But never mind: I know to whom I am writing. It is a long time since we had a sight of each other ; nevertheless I am often with you in thought, and I hope we shall meet at a throne of grace where there is access to all who come in io6 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN faith. Tell me if thou readest a chapter often. If not, begin ; oh, do begin ! How do you spend the Sabbath in that tumultuous city? Oh ! remember to keep it holy ; this you will never repent. I think you will be saying, "Hold, mother !" but time is short and uncertain. Now, Tom, the best of boys thou art to me! Do not think I am melancholy, though I so speak. I am quite well, and happy too when I hear from London and Edinburgh. And pray do not let me want food: as your father says, I look as if I would eat your letters. Write everything and soon — I look for one every fortnight till we meet. I grudge taking up the sheet, so I bid thee good-night, and remain Your affectionate mother Margaret Carcyi,^ P. S. (By Alexander Carlyle.) You are very wise, we seriously think, in determining to live in the country, but how or where I do not pretend to say; perhaps in some cottage, with a grass-park or cow attached to it for the nonce, and our mother or Mag for housekeeper. Or what say you of farming (marrying, I dare not speak to you about it at all) ? There are plenty of farms to let on all sides of the country. But tell me, are the warm hearts of Mainhill changed? Or are they less anxious to please? I guess not. Yet, after all, I do often think that you would be as comfortable here as anywhere. Although not known to his family, matrimony was, at this time, uppermost in Carlyle's mind. His determination to make his home in the country, did MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 107 not, however, meet with approval by his fiancee, the beautiful and cultured Jane Welsh. A farm house, Hoddam Hill, two miles from Mainhill, was nevertheless, secured, and the brothers at once pro- ceeded to put in the crop, while the mother and sisters made ready the dwelling. Mrs. Carlyle and two of the little ones were to remain while Miss Welsh came down for a visit. Of this visit, Carlyle writes : She stayed with us above a week, happy as was very evident, and making happy. Her demeanor among us I could define as unsurpassable, spontaneously perfect. From the first moment all embarrassment, even my mother's as tremulous and anxious as she naturally was, fled away without return .... On the whole she came to know us all, saw face to face us and the rugged peasant element and the way of life we had; and was not afraid of it, but recognized like her noble self, what of intrinsic worth it might have, and what of real human dignity. For a long while the mother of Jane Welsh re- mained a decided barrier to the marriage, as on account of Carlyle's moody and imperious tempera- ment, she feared for the future happiness of her daughter, who also possessed a decided will of her own. And friends of the Welsh family, who moved in an entirely different circle from that of the Car- lyles, looked upon the match as a decided mesalliance. 108 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Mrs. Carlyle kept her opinion quietly to herself, though her attitude toward the young couple was plainly shown in a letter from her son to Jane Welsh: My mother's prayers (to speak with all seriousness) are, I do believe, not wanting either to you or to me, and if the sincere wishes of a true soul can have any virtue, we shall not want a blessing. She bids me send you the kindest message I can contrive, which I send by itself without contrivance. She says she will have one good greet when we set off, and then be at peace. The marriage took place on October 17, 1826, and for a time Carlyle was happier than he had ever been, though ill-health and its accompanying moods were still his frequent condition, and the wife, patient and gentle, found him, as his mother had long since described him, "ill to live with," A difference with the landlord had caused the stay at Hoddam Hill to come to an end ; while the lease at Mainhill, expiring about the same time, the family moved to Scotsbrig, a farm near Ecclefechan, and here the father and mother spent the remainder of their lives. After their arrival at Comely Bank, Carlyle wrote his mother: I am still dreadfully confused, I am still far from being at home in my new situation, but I have reason to say MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 109 that I have been mercifully dealt with ; and if an outward man worn with continual harassments and spirits wasted with so many agitations would let me see it, that I may fairly calculate on being far happier than I have ever been. The house is a perfect model furnished with every accommodation that heart could desire; and for my wife, I may say in my heart that she is far better than any wife and loves me with a devotedness which it is a mystery to me how I have ever deserved. She is gay and happy as a lark, and looks with such soft cheerfulness into my gloomy countenance, that new hope passed into me every time I met her eye. In truth, I was very sullen yesterday, sick with sleeplessness, nervous, bilious, splenetic, and all the rest of it." Carlyle had permitted himself to complain much in early life, and in maturer years the habit was too fast upon him to be easily gotten rid of. But to fret before a mother is one thing, and before a wife, quite another; and though the Carlyles were in a measure happy, their happiness was greatly marred by uncongeniality of temperament. In a letter to his brother John, he said: I am all in a maze scarcely knowing the right hand from the left in the path I have to walk .... Tell my mother, however, that I do believe I shall get hefted to my new situation, and then be one of the happiest men alive. Tell her also that by Jane's express request I am to read a sermon and a chapter with a commentary at least every Sabbath day, to my household; also that we are taking no MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN seats in church, and design to live soberly and devoutly as beseems us. And again to his mother: Comely Bank: January 2, 1827 My Dear Mother : At length Tait (the publisher) has given me an oppor- tunity of sending off the weary book, and along with it a word or two to assure you of my welfare. The "German Romance" I have inscribed to my father, though I know he will not read a line of it. From you, however, I hope better things ; at any rate, I have sent you a book which I am sure you will read, because it relates to a really good man, and one engaged in a life which all men must reckon good. You must accept this "Life of Henry Martyn" as a New Year's gift from me; and while reading it believe that your son is a kind of a missionary in his way — not to the heathen of India, but to the British heathen, an innumerable class whom he would gladly do something to convert if his perplexities and manifold infirmities would give him leave .... We must wait patiently and study to do what service we can, not despising the day of small things, but meekly trusting that hereafter it may be the day of greater. I am beginning to be very instant for some sort of occupation, which indeed, is my chief want at present. I must stir the waters and see what is to be done. Many, many plans I have, but few of them, I doubt, are likely to prove acceptable at present ; the times are so bad, and bookselling trade so dull. Something, however, I will fix upon, for work is as essential to me as meat and drink. Of money we are not in want. The other morn- MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN in ing Mrs. Welsh sent us a letter with sixty pounds en- closed, fearing lest cleanness of teeth might be ready to overtake us. I thought it extremely kind and handsome; but we returned the cash with many thanks, wishing to fight our own battles at least until the season of need arrive. I have not said a word yet about your kind Scots- brig package. It was all right and in order, only that a few of the eggs (the box not being completely stuffed firm), had suffered by the carriage. Most part of them Jane has already converted into custards, pancakes, or the other like ware; the other I am eating and find excellent. A woman comes here weekly with a fresh stock to us, and I eat just one daily, the price being I5d. per dozen. Now, my dear mother, you must make Alick write to me, and tell me all that is going on with himself or you. Wish all hands a happy new year in my name, and assure them all, one by one, that I will love them truly all my days. There came, also, at this time, an appreciative letter from Jane Carlyle, in gratitude to Mrs. Carlyle for her many acts of kindness in providing for their temporal needs from her own limited store. During the summer of 1827, Carlyle sent to Goethe a copy of his "Life of Schiller," and also the "German Romance." In a short while, grateful acknowledgment was received, and Carlyle wrote joyfully to his mother: ii2 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Comely Bank: August 18 News came directly after breakfast that a package from Goethe had arrived in Leith. Without delay I proceeded thither, and found a little box carefully overlapped in wax cloth, and directed to me. After infinite wranglings and perplexed misdirected higglings, I succeeded in rescuing the precious packet from the fangs of the Custom-house sharks, and in the afternoon it was safely deposited in our little parlor — in the daintiest boxie you ever saw — so care- fully packed, so neatly and tastefully contrived was every- thing. There was a copy of Goethe's poems in five beau- tiful little volumes for "the valued marriage pair Car- lyle"; two other little books for myself, then two medals, one of Goethe himself, and another of his father and mother; and lastly, the prettiest wrought-iron necklace with a little figure of the poet's face set in gold for my dear spouse, and a most dashing pocketbook for me. In the box containing the necklace, and in each pocket of the pocket-book were cards, each with a verse of poetry on it in the old master's own hand. All these I will translate to you by-and-by as well as the long letter which lay at the bottom of all — one of the kindest and gravest epistles I ever read. He praises me for the "Life of Schiller" and the others; asks me to send him some account of my own previous history, etc. In short, it was all extremely graceful, affectionate, and patriarchal. You may conceive how much it pleased us. I believe a ribbon with the Order of the Garter would scarcely have flattered either of us more. Mrs. Carlyle was indeed thrilled with joy at this recognition of her son's literary gifts, but deemed MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 113 it nothing more than just that he should be held among Britain's greatest writers. She had always believed in him, and expected him to make a name for himself, and never doubted that he would come up to her expectations. From time to time, visits were exchanged by the families at Scotsbrig and Comely Bank, for as Car- lyle had said, they were "a clannish set." After a visit from his mother, he wrote to one of his brothers, as follows : My mother stayed about four weeks, then went home by Hawick, pausing a few days there. She was in her usual health, wondered much at Edinburgh, but did not seem to relish it excessively. I had her at the pier of Leith and showed her where your ship vanished, and she looked over the blue waters eastward with wettish eyes, and asked the dumb waters "when he would be back again." Good mother ! but the time of her departure came on, and she left us stupefied by the magnitude of such an enterprise as riding over eighty miles in the Sir Walter Scott with- out jumping out of the window, which I told her was the problem. Dear mother! let us thank God that she is still here in earth spared for us, and I hope to see good. I would not exchange her for any ten mothers I have ever seen. In the late spring of the year 1828, Thomas Car- lyle and his wife went to live at Craigenputtock, ii 4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN where amid the cheerless moors of Dumfriesshire they were for the next seven years to lead a lonely existence. Two years later came the first break in the family, in the death of the much beloved eldest daughter, Margaret. Of her last moments, Carlyle wrote to an absent brother: Our mother asked her in the afternoon if she thought herself dying. She answered "I dinna ken, mother, but I never was so sick in my life." To a subsequent question about her hopes of a future world she replied briefly, but in terms that were com- fortable to her parents .... Our mother begged her forgiveness if she had ever done her anything wrong; to which the dying one answered, "Oh, no, no, mother, never, never," earnestly, yet quietly, and without tears, .... Our mother behaved in what I must call an heroic man- ner. Seeing that the hour was now come, she cast her- self and her child on God's hand, and endeavored heartily to say, "His will be done." Since then she has been calmer than any of us could have hoped — almost the calmest of us. Several of her children were now living away from home, and Mrs. Carlyle could not conceal the anxiety that she felt for the welfare of the absent ones. One of the sisters wrote to Carlyle at this time: MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 115 Our mother has been healthier than usual this winter, but terribly hadden down in anxiety. She told me the other day the first gaet she gaed every morning was to London, then to Italy, then to Craigenputtock, and then to Mary's, and finally began to think them at home were maybe no safer, no safer than the rest. When I asked what she wished to say to you, she said she had a thou- sand things to say if she had you here ; "and thou may tell them, I am very little fra' them." You are to pray for us all daily, while separated from one another, that our ways be in God's keeping. You are also to tell the doctor (John) when you write, with her love, that he is to read his Bible carefully, and not to forget that God sees him in whatsoever land he may be. In January, 1832, there came a letter from his sister Jean, bringing the news of his father's death, after a brief illness. The mother added but a single line to the daughter's words : It is God that has done it ; be still my dear children. Your affectionate Mother. Unable to attend the funeral, Carlyle composed the memoir which appears in his "Reminiscences." As the eldest son, he now felt the responsibility which rested upon him as the head of the family. To his mother he wrote : n6 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN London: January 26, 1832 My Dear Mother: I was downstairs this morning when I heard the post- man's knock, and thought it might be a letter from Scots- brig. Hastening up I found Jane with the letter open and in tears. The next moment gave me the stern tidings. I had written you yesterday a light, hopeful letter which I could now wish you might not read in these days of dark- ness. Probably you will receive it just along with this; the first red seal so soon to be exchanged for a black one. As yet I am in no condition to write much. The stroke all unexpected though not undreaded, as yet painfully crushes my heart altogether. I have yet hardly a little relief from tears. And yet it will be a solace to me to speak out with you, to repeat along with you that great saying which, could we rightly lay it to heart, includes all that man can say, "It is God that has done it." God supports us all. .Yes my dear mother, it is God has done it; and our part is reverent submission to His will, and truthful prayers to Him for strength to bear us through every trial .... Neither are you my beloved mother, to let your heart be heavy. Faithfully you toiled by his side .... And now, do you pray for us all, and let us all pray in such language as we have for one another, so shall this sore division and parting be the means of closer union. Let us and every one know that, though this world is full of briers, and we are wounded at every step as we go, and one by one must take farewell and weep bitterly, yet "there remaineth a rest for the people of God." Yes, for the people of God there remaineth a rest, that rest which in the world they could nowhere find. And now again I MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 117 say, do not grieve any one of you beyond what nature forces and you can not help. Pray to God, if any of you have a voice and uterance; all of you pray always, in secret and silence — if faithful, ye shall be heard openly. I cannot be with you to speak, but read in the Scriptures as I would have done. Read, I especially ask, in Matthew's gospel, that passion, and death, and farewell blessing and command of Jesus of Nazareth ; and see if you can under- stand and feel what is the "divine depth of sorrow," and how even by suffering and sin man is lifted up to God, and in great darkness there shines a light. If you cannot read it aloud in common, then do each of you take his Bible in private and read it for himself. Our business is not to lament, but to improve the lamentable, and make it also peaceably work together for greater good. Much more did he write, in an affectionate and tender manner, giving the same comfort that his mother in turn would have given him; and reflect- ing in his words, her teachings. The memoir of his father referred to his many virtues. Very noteworthy are two characteristics mentioned — "he never spoke of what was disagree- able and past," and "his placid indifference to the clamors or the murmurs of public opinion." "I have a sacred pride," said Carlyle, "in my peasant father, and would not exchange him now for any king known to me." n8 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN To Mrs. Carlyle there continued to come long affectionate letters from her son, Thomas. He was struggling on in his literary efforts, with ofttimes scarce a pound to his credit. A few of his books and essays met with appreciation from the public, but some books, afterwards to rank among the world's best literature, were returned to him by the publishers with a polite refusal to publish. "Sartor Resartus" came under this head, and his disappointment was keen. To his mother he wrote : Little money I think will be had for my work, but I will have it printed if there be a man in London that will do it, even without payment to myself. If there be no such man, why then, what is to be done but tie a piece of good skeenyie about my papers, stick the whole in my pocket and march home again with it ; where at least potatoes and onions are to be had, and I can wait till better times. . . . . The Giver of all Good has enabled me to write the thing, and also to do without any pay for it: the pay would have been wasted away and flitted out of the bit as other pay does ; but if there stands any truth recorded there, it will not flit. And he was right — how many thousands have read "Sartor Resartus" since that day, and the truth recorded there, it "will not flit." In 1833, the young writer, Emerson, came across the Atlantic, and visited Carlyle for a brief time MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 119 in the moorland home. To his mother, Carlyle wrote that the young man "seemed to be one of the most lovable creatures in himself we had ever looked on. He stayed till next day with us, and talked and heard talk to his heart's content." Mrs. Carlyle's strong faith in God and in the wisdom of His ways, was exemplified at the time Carlyle had decided to commence writing "The French Revolution," and had been bitterly disap- pointed in failing to secure a professorship that would have given him ample means with which to go later to Paris for study and research. The Lord-Advocate Jeffrey had ignored a hint that he would like the professorship ; and Carlyle could not repress his bitter disappointment. "He canna hinder thee of God's providence," said his mother; which Carlyle agreed, later on, "was a glorious truth." To his brother John, he expressed his deter- mination to find success in London, and if not there, to go to America : I must work and seek work; before . sinking utterly I will make an a-fir struggle Our dear mother has not heard of this. It will be a heavy stroke, yet not quite unanticipated, and she will brave it. Go whither she may, she will have her Bible with her, and her faith in God. 120 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN She is the truest Christian believer I have ever met with; nay, I might almost say, the only one. She came to visit Thomas and his wife just before they departed to take up their residence in London, and he says, "she shed no tears, but I felt it so sore as I have felt nothing of the sort since boyhood." In December, there came to him the following cheering lines: December 15th, 1835 Dear Son: I need not say how glad I was to see your hand once more. It had been lying at the postoffice for some time, I think, for I had got the Annan ones the day before, which I think must have been sent later than it. They were all thrice welcome. I am glad to hear you are getting on with your book, in spite of all the difficulties you have had to struggle with, which have been many. I need not say, for you know already, I wish it a happy and long life. Keep a good heart. May God give us all grace to stay our hearts on Him who has said in His word, "He will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are stayed on Him, because they trust in Him." "Wait on the Lord and be thou strong, And He will strength afford Unto thy heart: yea, do thou wait, I say upon the Lord. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 121 "What time my heart is overwhelmed And in perplexity, Do thou me lead unto the Rock That higher is than I." Let us not be careful what the world thinks of us, if we can say with a good conscience, with Toplady: "Careless, myself a dying man, Of dying men's esteem; Happy, oh Lord, if thou approve, Though all beside condemn." You will say, I know all these things. "But they are sooner said than done." Be of courage, my dear son, and seek God for your guide I will be glad to see you both here to rest awhile when the fight is over. There perhaps never was a greater scrawl. Wink at it. God bless you, my dear children. Your affectionate mother Margaret A. CarlylE Some friends having arranged for him a course of lectures — three days before appearing in this new role, he wrote: I lie quiet and have the greatest appetite in the world to do nothing at all. On Monday at three o'clock comes my first lecture, but I mean to take it as coolly as possible. It is neither death nor men's lives, whether I speak well or speak ill, or do nothing but gasp. One of my friends was inquiring about it lately. I told him some days ago I could speak abundantly and cared nothing about it. At 122 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN other times 1 felt as if when Monday came the natural speech for me would be this : "Good Christians, it has become entirely impossible for me to talk to you about German or any literature or terrestrial thing; one request only I have to make, that you would be kind enough to cover me under a tub for the next six weeks and go your ways with all my blessing." This were a result well worth remarking; but it is not likely to be this. On the whole, dear mother, fear nothing. One great blessing is that in three weeks it must be done one way or another. It will be over then, and all well. The lectures, it may be said, went off well, and brought in a small but very welcome sum to the poverty-stricken author. Shortly afterwards, he betook himself to Scotsbrig, where was spent a peaceful two-months with his mother. Together they smoked their pipes in the garden, and enjoyed thoroughly the brief holiday. Carlyle had passed through years of toil, dis- couragement, and hardship, but the tide had now turned, and at the age of forty-two, he was accounted a great writer. The "French. Revolu- tion" had been published, and sold well, meeting with much favor. From Scotsbrig he wrote to John Carlyle: Our good mother keeps very well here. She and I have been out once or twice for two hours, helping Jamie with his hay. She is "waul as an eel" while working. She MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 123 cooks our little meal, which we eat peaceably together. She mends clothes, bakes scones, is very fond of news- papers, especially Radical ones, and stands up for the rights of man. She has toiled on into near the end of the second volume of the "French Revolution,"- not without considerable understanding of it, though the French names are a sad clog. She will make it out pretty completely by and by. Through Emerson's influence, the "French Revolution" and "Sartor Resartus" were published in America, and Carlyle received one hundred and fifty pounds as the proceeds before one penny came from England. Of the first fifty pounds, he sent five to his mother, "off the fore end of it. The kitten ought to bring the auld cat a mouse in such a case as that — an American mouse." Years passed by, bringing to Mrs. Carlyle much reason for pride in her favorite son's established literary reputation, and strengthening the bonds of affectionate comradeship which had existed be- tween them since his youth. The year 1853 found her health to be failing rapidly. On December 4 came his last letter to her: It is this day gone fifty-eight years that I was born. .... I am now myself grown old, and have had various things to do and suffer for so many years ; but there is nothing I ever had to be so much thankful for as the i2 4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN mother I had. That is a truth which I know well, and perhaps this day again it may be some comfort to you. Yes, surely, for if there has been any good in the things I have uttered in the world's hearing, it was your voice essentially that was speaking through me ; essentially what you and my brave father meant and taught me to mean, this was the purport of all I spoke and wrote. And if in the few years that remain to me I am to get any more written for the world, the essence of it, so far as it is worthy and good, will still be yours. May God reward you, dearest mother, for all you have done for me! I never can. Ah no! but will think of it with gratitude and pious love as long as I have the power of thinking. The end was even nearer than he dreamed. The dear mother, whose tender ministrations, wise counsel, and cheering words had meant more to him than language could express, had more than rounded out her fourscore years, and was verging on the close of her earthly pilgrimage. From the journal of Thomas Carlyle is taken this record of her last moments : January 8, 1854: The stroke has fallen. My dear mother is gone from me, and in the winter of the year, confusedly under darkness of weather and of mind, the stern final epoch — epoch of old age — is beginning to un- fold itself for me. I had gone to the Grange with Jane, not very willingly; was sadly in worthless solitude for most part passing my Christmas season there. The news MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 125 from Scotsbrig had long been bad; extreme weakness, for there was no disease, threatening continually for many months past to reach its term. What to do I knew not. At length shaking aside my sick languor and wretched uncertainty I perceived plainly that I ought not to be there — but I ought to go to Scotsbrig at all risks straightway. This was on Tuesday, December 20; on Wednesday I came home; on Thursday evening set off northward by the express train. The night's travel, Carlisle for the three- quarters of an hour I waited, Kirtlebridge at last, and my anxieties in the walk to Scotsbrig; these things I shall not forget. It is a matter of perennial thankfulness to me, and beyond my desert in that matter very far, that I found my dear old mother still alive; able to recognize me with a faint joy, her former self still strangely visible there in all its lineaments, though worn to the uttermost thread. The brave old mother and the good, whom to lose had been my fear ever since intelligence awoke in me in this world, arrived now at the final bourne. Never shall I forget her wearied eyes that morning, looking out gently into the wintry daylight; every instant falling together in sleep and then opening again. She had in general the most perfect clearness of intellect, courage- ous composure, affectionate patience, complete presence of mind. Dark clouds of physical suffering, etc., did from time to time eclipse and confuse ; but the steady light, gone now to the size of a star, as it had been a sun, came always out victorious again. At night on that Friday she had for- gotten me, "Knew me only since the morning." I went into the other room; in a few minutes she sent for me to 126 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN say she did now remember it all, and knew her son Tom as of old. "Tell us how thou sleeps," she said, when I took leave about midnight. "Sleeps !" Alas ; she herself had lain in a sleep of death for sixteen hours, till that very morning at six, when I was on the road! That was the third of such sleeps or half- faints lasting for fifteen or sixteen hours. Jane saw the first of them in August. On Saturday, if I recollect, her sense in general seemed clear, though her look of weakness was greater than ever. Brother Jamie and I had gone out to walk in the after- noon. Returning about dusk we found her suffering greatly; want of breath, owing to weakness. What passed from that time till midnight will never efface itself, and need not be written here. I never saw a mind more clear and present, though worn down now to the uttermost and smiling in the dark floods. My good, veracious, affection- ate, and brave old mother! I keep one or two incidents and all the perplexed image of that night to myself, as something very precious, singular, and sternly sacred to me; beautiful too in its valiant simple worth, and touching as what else could be to me? About eleven my brother John ventured on half a dose of laudanum, the pain of breathing growing ever worse otherwise. Relief perceptible in consequence, we sent my sister Jean to bed — who had watched for nights and months, relieved only by John at intervals. I came into the room where John was now watching. "Here is Tom come to bid you good night, mother," said he. She smiled assent, took leave of me as usual. As I turned to go she said, "I'm muckle obleeged t'ye." Those were her last MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 127 voluntary words in this world. After that she spoke no more — slept even deeper. Her sleep lasted about sixteen hours. She lay on her back, stirred no muscle. The face was that of a statue with slight changes of expression. "Infinite astonishment" was what one might have fancied to read on it at one time; the breathing not very hard or quick, yet evidently difficult, and not changing sensibly in character, till 4 p. m., when it suddenly fell lower, paused, again paused, perhaps still again; and our good and dear old mother was gone from her sorrows and from us. I did not weep much, or at all, except for moments ; but the sight too, and the look backwards and forwards, was one that a far harder heart might have melted under. Fare- well, farewell ! She was about eighty-four years of age, and could not with advantage to any side remain with us longer. Surely it was a good Power that gave us such a mother ; and good though stern that took her away from amid such grief and labor by a death beautiful to one's thoughts. "All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come." This they often heard her muttering, and many other less frequent pious texts and passages. Amen, Amen! Sunday, December 25th, 1853 — a day henceforth forever memorable to me. The funeral was on Thursday. Intense frost had come on Monday night. I lingered about Scots- brig, wandering silently in the bright hard silent mornings and afternoons, waiting till all small temporal matters were settled — which they decently were. On Monday morning I went — cold as Siberia, yet a bright sun shining; had a painful journey, rapid as a 128 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN comet, but with neither food nor warmth attainable till after midnight, when my sad pilgrimage ended. Since then I have been very languidly sorting rubbish, very languid, sad, and useless every way. It can not be said that I have yet learned this severe lesson I have got. I must try to learn it more and more or it will not pass from me. To live for the shorter or longer remainder of my days with the simple bravery, veracity, and piety, of her that is gone; that would be a right learning from her death, and a right honoring of her memory. But alas ! all is yet frozen within me ; even as it is without me at present, and I have made little or no way. God be helpful to me ! I myself am very weak, confused, fatigued, entangled in poor worldiness too. Newspaper paragraphs, even as this sacred and peculiar thing, are not indifferent to me. Weak soul ! and I am fifty-eight years old, and the tasks I have on hand, Frederick, etc., are most ungainly, incongruous with my mood — and the night cometh, for me too is not distant, which for her is come. I must try, I must try. Writing to a friend, he said: I got here in time to be recognized, to be cheered with the sacred beauty of a devout and valiant soul's departure. God make me thankful for such a mother. God. enable me to live more worthily of her in the years I may still have left. To his brother John, he wrote: My labor is miserably languid, the heart within me is low and sad. I have kept quite alone, seen nobody at all. I think of our dear mother with a kind of mournful MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 129 blessedness. Her life was true, simple, generous, brave; her end with the last sad traces of these qualities still visible in it, was very beautiful if very sad to us. I would not for much want those two stern days at Scotsbrig from my memory. They lie consecrated there as if baptized in sorrow with the greatness of eternity in them. And again: My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, all hung with black in general. I hold my peace in general and accept the decrees of Heaven, still hoping that some useful labor may again be possible for me here, which is the one consola- tion I can conceive at present. The passing weeks found Carlyle "professing to work ; making no headway at all." Grief had seized upon him; and his mother was constantly in his thoughts. His journal, February 28, 1854, records the following : Sunday morning last there came into my mind a vision of the old Sunday mornings I had seen at Mainhill, etc. Poor old mother, father, and the rest of us bustling about to get dressed in time and down to the meeting-house at Ecclefechan. Inexpressibly sad to me and full of meaning. They are gone now, vanished all; their poor bits of thrifty clothes, more precious to me than Queen's or King's expensive trappings, their pious effort, their "little life," it is all away. So with all things. Nature and this big universe i 3 o MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN in all corners of it show nothing else. Time ! Death ! All- devouring Time ! This thought, "Exeunt omnes," and how the generations are like crops of grass, temporary, very, and all vanishes, as it were an apparition and a ghost; these things, though half a century old in me, possess my mind as they never did before My mother! my good heavy-laden dear and brave and now lost mother ! The thought that I shall never see her more with these eyes gives a strange painful flash into me many times when I look at that portrait I have of her. "Like Ulysses," as I say, I converse with the shade of my mother, and sink out of all company and light common talk into that grand element of sorrow and eternal stillness Oh pious mother ! kind, good, brave, and truthful soul as I have ever found, and more than I have ever elsewhere found in this world, your poor Tom, long out of his schooldays now, has fallen very lonely, very lame and broken in this pilgrimage of his; and you can not help him or cheer him by a kind word any more. From your grave in Ecclefechan kirkyard yonder you bid him trust in God, and that also he will try if he can understand, and do. The conquest of the world and of death and hell does verily yet lie in that, if one can under- stand and do it. IV SUSANNA ANNESLEY WESLEY MOTHER OF JOHN AND CHARLES WESLEY IN truth may it be said, "Susanna Wesley's hand rings all the Methodist church bells around the globe today" ; for it was the mother of John and Charles Wesley who inspired and stimulated the movement which resulted in worldwide Metho- dism. Susanna Annesley, the daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley, was born in the latter part of the seven- teenth century, and came of noble lineage, being, on her paternal side, of the house of the Earl of Anglesea. In his young manhood, Samuel Annesley won many honors at Oxford and in later life served as chaplain at sea, and as pastor of two of the largest congregations in London. For centuries the religious history of England had been a story of bitter conflict and unrest — 132 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Independent and Prelatist, Protestant and Romanist, met in 'a continual struggle for suprem- acy; and in behalf of the church, England's fame had ofttimes been besmirched by deeds of darkest violence. It was during the crucial period of this prolonged season of religious controversy that Dr. Annesley's life was passed. Refusing to conform to the Established Church of England, he became a dissenting clergyman; and after taking this bold step, suffered, during the remaining thirty years of his life, manifold hardships as the penalty for adherence to his convictions. Susanna Annesley inherited from her father striking personal attractiveness, as well as great activity of mind, combined with unusual strength of character. Among marked characteristics evidenced in early childhood was especially por- trayed an unswerving obedience to the dictates of conscience, which was so strongly emphasized in the character of her father. When Susanna had scarcely reached the age of thirteen years, after having made a diligent study of the fierce contro- versy then being waged between the Church and the Dissenters, she calmly and deliberately announced herself as upholding the cause of the Church. To Dr. Annesley, it was a severe and unexpected blow to discover that the pronounced MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 133 opinions which he sustained were rejected in his own household. Recognizing, however, in his young daughter a piety and strength of character unusual for one of her years, Dr. Annesley stifled his regret at her decision, and exhibited toward Susanna the same strong affection which he had always bestowed upon her. He realized that she had studied carefully the questions which were disturbing older heads, and that her convictions were the results of calm deliberation and unbiased thought; so deemed it only right that she should be permitted to hold her own opinion even in regard to such weighty matters. Thus Susanna's girlhood merged into woman- hood, and she grew in strength of intellect, wideness of knowledge, and self-reliance; all problems that confronted her were reasoned out alone, and, after diligent study and due deliberation, she accepted only that which to her mind seemed unquestionably true and right. She received an excellent educa- tion; and from her letters, and the record of those who knew her intimately, it is not surprising that she has been adjudged in many respects the peer of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the foremost woman in England at that period. The personal beauty of Susanna Wesley has been the subject of much comment. A portrait, painted i 3 4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN at the age of twenty-five, shows a face of rare loveliness and intellectuality. This charm of countenance was enhanced by rich gifts of intellect and Christian graces, throughout a long life of more than three score years and ten. It was while living in London, that Susanna Annesley, at the age of twenty, became the wife of Samuel Wesley. The father and grandfather of young Samuel Wesley were both clergymen of strong convictions, and by adhering to certain be- liefs unconformable to the Church, suffered in con- sequence persecution and imprisonment. It had been the intention of Samuel Wesley to become a dissenting clergyman, but rather than approve the beheading of Charles I., he returned to the Established Church. Acting as tutor, he worked his way through College at Oxford, and while there began the work of visiting prisoners and the needy poor. For a while after their marriage, the Wesleys resided in London, where Samuel Wesley held the positions, first, of curate; and afterward served as chaplain in the Fleet. The family, which numbered at that time six children, later removed to Epworth, a rural village of Lincolnshire, which possessed little charm of surroundings. Here, in the Epworth parsonage, built one hundred years MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 135 before, dwelt this interesting family; and here Susanna Wesley reared her nineteen children. Beneath the thatched roof of the parsonage were three large chambers — a parlor, hall, "buttery," and a few small rooms. And in these limited quarters the young Wesleys dwelt in apparent contentment, never showing dissatisfaction that fortune had not favored them more. Over all the home the mother reigned supreme, with the exception of the study, which was to the father a "holy of holies," a sanctum not to be disturbed. In the seclusion of his little domain, Samuel Wesley studied, and wrote sermons; and when free from pastoral duties, spent many hours occupied in his favorite pastime — writing essays and dissertations on varied subjects of a religious nature. Among his best works was a Latin dissertation on the book of Job. Although a man of wide learning, with a deep passion for rhyming, and gifted with a prolific pen, Samuel Wesley's writings did not gain for him either reputation or remuneration. Before their removal to Epworth, the family income had been only fifty pounds per annum; but even with this slender amount Susanna Wesley had managed affairs so judiciously that the family, consisting at that time of eight, lived in comfort, if not in luxury. At Epworth, the salary of Samuel Wesley 136 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN amounted to two hundred pounds, which, although not a large sum, was nevertheless a very desirable increase of funds for expenditure in the family, which gradually grew until nineteen young Wesleys clustered beneath the parsonage roof. In her home, Susanna Wesley was the pivot about which all else revolved; and here she reigned with gentle and undisputed sway. Truly no queen did ever rule more wisely or more conscientiously than did this mother over her little kingdom. Burdened continually with the multitudinous cares incidental to the household of a poor country clergyman, Susanna Wesley met every phase of life calmly and wisely, giving personal supervision to all family affairs and housekeeping duties ; and managing the disposition of a very limited income with marked business ability and judgment. At this time, imprisonment for debt was a com- mon punishment in England. On one occasion, Samuel Wesley was unable to meet the demand for payment of a small debt he had incurred, and was imprisoned for the period of three months. Deem- ing it his duty to help his fellow-man under all cir- cumstances, he acted as chaplain to the other prison- ers. During his incarceration, Wesley was greatly sustained by the fortitude of his wife, on whom alone the responsibility of providing for her large MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 137 family rested during this period of financial dis- aster. She even sent to him her rings, that some small personal comforts might be purchased, but he returned them, preferring to deny himself rather than deprive her of the few trinkets which she possessed. The married life of the Wesleys was happy and peaceful, with the exception of one occurrence, when their strong wills clashed, thereby causing temporary estrangement. One evening when Samuel Wesley read, as usual, prayers for the king, William III., Susanna did not respond with the customary "Amen." Her husband inquired the reason, and received the reply that she "did not consider that William had the right to be king, and in accordance with this belief she would refuse to acknowledge him." An argument of much warmth followed; and, finding Susanna to be as unchange- able in her opinion as he in his, Samuel departed from home. A year passed by, and there came the death of William, and the accession to the throne of Anne. With the reign of a sovereign whom both were willing to acknowledge, reconciliation and reunion were restored in the Wesley home. This incident, which is recorded by their son, John Wesley, is strongly illustrative of the unbending will of both parents. 138 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN In the care and training of her children, Susanna Wesley was most painstaking. The rearing of the little Wesleys, from earliest babyhood, was exceed- ingly "methodical," as she herself expressed it. The first months of a child's life she deemed should' be passed for the most part in sleeping; then the time should be gradually reduced until sleep during the daytime was not needed. At the age of one year the infant was taught to "cry softly" ; and in regard to this method of instruction the young Wesleys must have been apt pupils, since it is said the sound of crying rarely disturbed the peaceful atmosphere of this model home. Rules as to sys- tematic living were regularly enforced, and the daily routine moved on like clockwork. Eating and drinking between meals was forbidden, except in case of illness ; promptly at eight o'clock each evening, all the children retired, unattended, except the very youngest. At prayers and during grace they were taught the utmost reverence, even when too tiny to kneel or speak. No study was allowed to tax the young brain until the child had reached five years of age; at that time the youthful scholar entered upon the elementary tasks of acquiring an education. Alone together in a room free from disturbance, the mother and child spent the first day of school life, mastering the alphabet. Three MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 139 hours in the morning and three in the afternoon were allotted to this difficult task; and, of the entire family, it is said that only two children required as much time as a day and a half. The next task to be accomplished was to read and spell perfectly a chapter in Genesis, which doubtless was not mastered in so brief a time. This was the in- troduction of the Wesley children into the world of letters; and thus were the habits of the student fixed in early life. So patient and painstaking was the mother that no amount of time was spared to make plain some difficult passage or problem. It is told that on one occasion Mrs. Wesley went over and over again with John some portion of a lesson which it seemed impossible for him to understand. The father, sitting near-by, became irritated at the apparent stupidity of the child, and exclaimed, "Susanna, why do you tell that lad the same thing for the hundredth time?" "Because," was the calm reply, "the ninety-ninth time he did not under- stand." At an early age, also, was the religious training of the Wesleys begun; and most earnestly and zealously were they instructed in the ways of Christian living. When about thirty years of age, Susanna Wesley, realizing that she was giving too little time to her devotional exercises, decided to 140 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN spend an hour each morning and each evening in the study of the Bible and in prayer. It doubtless meant a great sacrifice on the part of the busy housewife and mother, with multitudinous duties and constant demands upon her time, to set apart daily two hours for devotional exercises; but she did so, and there is no evidence that other duties were neglected. This example of piety must have exerted great influence over the lives of her chil- dren, who looked up to the mother with an affection little short of adoration. That one woman could have accomplished all that has been accredited to Susanna Wesley, seems indeed remarkable. She employed system with re- gard to all duties, and gave personal attention to the minute details of household affairs. It has been authentically stated that in the government of her well-ordered home "she never lost her temper, nor once was forced to chastise any member of her family." Observing the trend of intellect and varied dis- positions of her children, she sought to understand thoroughly the temperament and individuality of each one. In one of her letters, there is evidenced the deep interest which was taken in the develop- ment of each child's mind: "I discuss every night with each child by itself, on something that relates MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 141 to its principal concerns. On Monday I talk with Molly; on Tuesday with Hetty; Wednesday with Nancy; Thursday with Jacky; Friday with Patty; Saturday with Charles ; and with Emily and Sukey on Sunday." In later years, Sunday must have been a very full day if all the little Wesleys came in for a share of the mother's time. To "Jadcy" especially, the recollection of this evening chat was always a cherished memory; and Thursday seemed to him ever afterward a mid-week Sabbath. Music occupied no unimportant place in the Epworth home, which has been likened to "a very nest of songsters." Of all the children, John and Charles were most musical, and both are said to have been gifted with voices of remarkable sweet- ness. Of this interesting family, ten of the children lived to reach adult years. In John especially, when he was only a tiny lad, did the mother recognize unusual gifts and great mental endowment. In early childhood, he was called on to pass through certain experiences which seemed to develop in a marked manner the fineness and nobility of his character. When four years of age, he was stricken with smallpox, and so hero- ically did the little fellow endure suffering that 142 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Susanna Wesley felt that the characteristics of the child, displayed thus early, prophesied great things for the man; and bespoke her intention of being "most careful of the soul of this child/' Among the principles which she laid down J. or him, the following seems to have permeated his entire life and guided every action: "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things — in short, whatsoever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself." Many years afterwards, John Wesley paid eloquent tribute to the teachings of his mother. Speaking of her wonderful capability, he describes her as writing, conversing, or transacting business, surrounded by thirteen children! When John was only six years old, the Epworth parsonage was burned, and he narrowly escaped death in the flames. Deeply impressed by his miraculous escape, he always considered that he was "as a brand plucked from the burning," and providentially saved to accomplish a great work for the world. The mother, who so wisely ruled her household, instructed her children, and ably transacted busi- MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 143 ness matters, seemed capable of meeting any cir- cumstance which arose. Once when her husband was detained in London on business, Susanna de- cided to conduct special religious services for her family, there being no afternoon nor evening service at the Epworth Church. Others soon learned of the meetings to be held, and numbers sought admittance. Samuel feared that Susanna's action might meet with the disapproval of the Church, but hesitated as to what course of action to pursue. The meetings soon grew to large pro- portions, there being sometimes more than two hundred in attendance ; and the sermons were com- mented on as being the "best and most awakening" the community had yet listened to. The curate, however, became offended, and the matter was referred to Mr. Wesley, who ordered his wife to cease holding services, but said that, if she so desired, she might procure someone to act in her stead. Susanna argued her case by replying that scarcely a man among those attending could read intelligently, and while her boys might do the reading in her place, they could not be heard by all present ; that numbers had not been to church in years, and that there was much evidence of good being accomplished by the meetings held. She remarked, however, that though she "would stop 144 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN at no man's grumbling, she would if he so com- manded her, obey lawful authority"; adding that he, as pastor and husband, must take upon himself the responsibility in regard to having the meetings cease. The Wesley family was gifted richly in mental endowments and ability — five of the ten children who reached maturity being noted especially for intellectuality and brilliancy of mind. John and Charles are best known to the world ; and it is John who has given greatest prominence to the name of Wesley. From both mother and father he in- herited boldness of spirit and Christian zeal; but it was the mother's faithful training and guiding hand that shaped his life, and stamped upon his char- acter ideals of greatness. As philanthropist, writer, evangelist, and founder of Methodism, John Wesley lived for eighty-seven years, an honor to his country and to the Christian faith. To him the devoted mother was ever an object of tenderest affection and reverence. It was doubtless his high regard for her capabilities and gifts of mind that led John Wesley to open a wider sphere for woman, which admitted her to the pul- pit. Of the women-preachers of that day, one of the most notable was Dinah Evans, to whom George Eliot has given a prominent place in literature as MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 145 one of the chief characters in "Adam Bede." Dinah Evans was heard with greatest reverence by the rudest crowds, and accomplished much for the church in the early days of Methodism. Her hus- band, Seth Evans, was known as a class-leader, and their friendship began when he first heard her preach. The closing years of Susanna Wesley's life were spent in the home of her son, John, in London. Here, at the historic old Foundry Church, he preached, and the aged mother manifested deepest interest in his efforts to spread the gospel. After a long life of usefulness, of greatest activ- ity, and of unceasing zeal for the work of the king- dom of Christ, Susanna Wesley, having passed through the peaceful serenity of closing years con- spicuous for their beauty and grace, reached the completion of her days. Five daughters and the beloved son, John, attended her deathbed, and, at the request of the venerable mother, mingled their voices in a "psalm of praise to God," as her spirit took its flight. In the life of Susanna Wesley, one may find a faithful likeness of Solomon's pen-portrait of the perfect woman. Certainly, as a type of the Chris- tian mother in whose character are combined all 146 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN the traits and gifts which unite to make up a well- rounded life, she approaches very near to this standard of perfection. V MONICA MOTHER OF SAINT AUGUSTINE LIKE the reflected glow from some brilliant star which has long since vanished from d the heavens, there comes through the mists of intervening centuries, undimmed and serenely beautiful, the life-story of Monica, mother of Saint Augustine. Most striking and impressive is her exhibition of the fathomless love and unbounded devotion of motherhood. The principal facts concerning the life of Monica are culled from the autobiographical writings of her gifted son, for their lives are so closely inter- twined that the biography of one must include that of the other. In the year 332 A. D., this remarkable woman, whose life was destined to exert an in- fluence which may well be said to be illimitable, was born. Had the fourth century given to his- tory as prominent figures, only Monica and the son through whose fame she lives and is revered, it 148 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN would have sufficed to make that period a notable one. Not far from the ancient city of Carthage, in Northern Africa, was located the old Roman town of Thagaste, in the fertile province of Numidia; and it was here that Monica was born. Her parents, who were evidently people of noble rank and affluence, exercised marked care and strict discipline in the rearing and educating of their chil- dren. Monica, as a child, was of an intensely religious nature, and especially was she interested in caring for the sick and needy, whenever oppor- tunity afforded. Gentleness and calmness were among her chief characteristics; and when at play disputes arose among her little companions, it re- quired but a word from Monica to bring about an amicable adjustment. Thus the character of the child foreshadowed that of the woman; and it is not surprising that maturer years only added grace and charm. Augustine, describing his mother says : "She was of a highly intellectual and spiritual cast, of most tender affection and all-conquering love." And surely no description could be more true to life, more swift to convey a correct impression of one who so aptly serves as a model of saintly womanhood. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 149 An aged family servant, who had attended the father in his infancy, was an important factor in the family circle, and wielded an unrestrained in- fluence over the entire household. Of this influence upon Monica's early years, Augustine, in his "Con- fessions," writes : "By exercising strict discipline over her moral conduct, and using a holy prudence in educating her, she inured the child's tender heart to the practices of noble virtues. Between the hours of her modest repasts at her father's table, she was not permitted, were she thirsty, to touch a drop of water," thus teaching her, in the most trivial mat- ters, self-control and obedience. Augustine con- tinues : "Behold, O my God, how Thou didst form her, when neither father nor mother suspected what she would one day be. Thou didst place her cradle in the bosom of a pious family, one of the best regulated in Thy holy church; and therein, under the guidance of thy Divine Son, she grew up in the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom." An incident related of Monica's childhood illus- trates her determination to exert self-control in every matter of life ; to avoid, as it were, even "the very appearance of evil." As was the prevailing custom of that time, young girls were instructed in their homes in the duties of housekeeping; and 150 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN among various daily tasks, Monica, accompanied by a maid-servant, was sent to the cellar to make pro- vision of wine for the family. Not being permitted to drink water between meals, she frequently took a sip of wine to allay her thirst, and naturally be- came very fond of it. One day when in the wine- cellar, the servant noted with what eagerness Monica quaffed off her little cup, and thoughtlessly called her a "wine-bibber." The taunt struck deep — Monica's pride was stung by this insult, and henceforth she refused to taste wine, fearing that an undue fondness might perhaps lead her, in real- ity, to become a wine-bibber! In after years she related this story to Augustine, adding that so zeal- ous had she been in endeavoring to keep the vow made in childhood, that even in the rites of the church where wine was used, she barely touched it to her lips. At the age of twenty-two, Monica was married to Patricius, who held the position of Curial, or municipal magistrate in Thagaste. He was more than twice her age, and possessed little wealth. This union did not result in congenial married life, for Patricius is described as a man of dissolute character, "an unbeliever, of rude and passionate sensibility," and as having little regard for the Christian faith. MOTHERvS OF GREAT MEN 151 To add to the sorrows of her new life, Monica was compelled to make her home with her hus- band's mother, a violent woman, with a most jealous disposition. Even the servants of the home were arraigned against Monica ; and it seemed, with such surrounding conditions, that her cup was well-nigh full. Instead, however, of seeking to avoid the trials which beset her, she reasoned that God had given Patricius to her that she might convert him from a life of paganism to the Christian faith. She became, as it were, a living martyr, and in gentle- ness and lowliness of spirit endeavored to win her husband from evil ways to a Christian life; and also, to live peacefully with his mother. So tactful and patient was Monica that the harsh mother-in- law was by degrees won over by her sweet, un- selfish spirit; and the two finally dwelt together in perfect harmony. When in storms of passionate temper Patricius raged, Monica spoke not a word; when his sins were brought most vividly to her attention, she suffered in silence — through prayer, and by example she endeavored to exert an influence more potent than that of words — religion was not merely preached from her lips, it permeated her entire life. It was no unusual thing for women, even of high rank, to be so maltreated by their husbands that 152 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN bruises frequently gave evidence of brutality; and young friends of Monica often came to her with bitter complaints of cruel treatment received. To all, the admonition was alike, "Take care of your tongues." And so perfectly was her own tongue under control, that never, even when in his most violent outbursts of temper, did Patricius strike his wife, or attempt to do her personal injury. His affection and respect for her unconsciously deep- ened and increased, until gradually he became trans- formed in heart and mind, though it required long years of loyal devotion, patient waiting, and earnest prayer, on the part of the wife, who lived all the while amid conditions little conducive to happiness or to the strengthening of her faith. Says Augus- tine, referring to Monica and Patricius, "Every day she appeared more beautiful in his eyes, and that beauty born of virtue began already to gain for her the respect and love and admiration of her hus- band." Amid the sorrows which darkened these early years of womanhood, joy entered Monica's life in the coming of three little ones to brighten the other- wise cheerless home. The firstborn, Augustine, was destined to become one of the world's immortals, and is esteemed as the most eminent of the Latin fathers. On the thirteenth day of November, 354 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 153 A. D., he came to gladden the heart of the mother whose young life was well-nigh crushed beneath its burden of sorrow. The lives of Monica and her oldest son are closely interwoven, and to him she gave of her heart's deepest, tenderest affection. Tradition says that before his birth she had a vision revealing the great things he would one day accomplish, pro- vided she should influence him to be faithful to God. The responsibility of fulfilling this duty seemed henceforth to be the foremost object of her life, and she gave to it her constant thought and endeavor. The second son, Navigius, was of a gentle, retir- ing disposition, and he never experienced the storms which beset the elder brother's life. Con- tinued ill-health caused him to spend much time quietly at home, where he indulged his literary tastes, and was the means of consoling and cheering Monica during the unhappy experiences and wanderings of Augustine. Though little is known of the younger son, history records enough to prove that Navigius was a decided contrast to Augustine, not only in temperament and character, but also in mental ability. The daughter of Monica, Perpetua, is said to have been, like her mother, of an extremely pious 154 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN nature. In early life, she married, and soon after- ward was left a widow without children. After her husband's death, Perpetua made her home with Augustine; but from the day of his ordination he permitted no woman, not even his sister, to dwell under his roof, so she consecrated herself to the religious life, and became superioress in one of the convents founded by Saint Augustine. From the let- ters of Augustine, we learn that he always gave to his sister the title of saint, and regarded her with deepest affection and respect. In Rome and other places, many altars were dedicated to Navigius and Perpetua, both of whom were held in high esteem by the church. At an early age, Augustine evidenced unusual brilliancy of mind, and, both parents being ambi- tious for his intellectual advancement, he was given the best instruction available. Monica endeavored to instill in him the principles of Christian man- hood, but in this attempt she received neither assist- ance nor encouragement from Patricius. In Madaura, not far from Thagaste, were cele- brated schools, and Monica accompanied Augustine there to place him under the care of more learned masters than his native town could afford. Having counseled him with fervor, and shed many tears at parting, she returned home to await with keen MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 155 anxiety the result of this step ; for Augustine, even as a youth, was beginning to exhibit unworthy traits of character, and was rapidly becoming wayward. Although endowed with unusual gifts of intellect, he early showed decided aversion to study; and to avoid being forced to undergo what was to him exceedingly distasteful, practiced decep- tion in various ways, in order to mislead his parents and teachers. This was a source of much grief to Monica, and she often accompanied Augustine to "men of prayer," that they might impart higher ideals, and influence him to more exemplary habits. "I learned of them/' writes Augustine, "to conceive of Thee, O my God, as a supreme being, who with- out appearing to our eyes can nevertheless come to our aid. I commenced then to implore Thee to be- come my refuge and support in my troubles, and I prayed to Thee, child as I was, with no little fervor, to save me from being whipped at school. Alas ! Thou didst not always save me, and this was for my good. And all, even my parents them- selves, laughed at my terror of the ferrule — a bagatelle to them, but for me, at that time, a great trouble and terror." Besides his aversion to study, other faults more grievous and dangerous began to appear, for Augus- tine had inherited many evil tendencies from his 156 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN father. Realizing the danger to which her son's course might lead if not checked by some strong and ennobling influence, Monica placed him in school at Madaura, and afterwards in Carthage, that he might have the best advantages of educa- tion, and also complete removal from the undesir- able influences which he sought in Thagaste. Hav- ing done this, she applied herself more diligently to prayer, relying in greater measure upon divine assistance than upon human aid for the welfare of her son. During these years when Monica's heart was filled with anxiety for Augustine, whose footsteps were fast slipping into paths of temptation, she had not been forgetful to intercede continually for the conversion of her husband, and, at length, had the great joy of seeing him accept Christianity. Through seventeen years of married life, she had prayed continually that Patricius might see the error of his way, and now rejoiced to see her prayers answered. Not long after his conversion, Patricius died, and Monica in her sorrow shed tears of joy that she had been permitted to be the means by which he was led to renounce a sinful life. Henceforth she gave herself more zealously to bringing about the conversion of Augustine. Per- ceiving that he easily mastered studies which at MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 157 times baffled the minds of his masters, new hope sprang up within her, for she felt that the return of Augustine to God would be commenced through the study of science, and held strongly the belief that whatever elevates the soul brings men nearer to God. Knowing that Augustine cared little for the Bible, she did not press on him the study of the Scriptures. Tactful and patient, she relied upon prayer and the example of a holy life to change the heart of the son, as it had done that of the father. In the "Confessions of Augustine" is related most fully, and in a spirit of deepest humility and atonement, the story of his life. He tells of boy- hood days, when temptations drew him into evil paths; of how gradually he became a slave to wrongdoing; and finally gave himself up to a life of wickedness and shame. Carthage at that time was a city of much literary distinction, as well as of marked moral depravity, and here Augustine plunged into a life of unrestrained dissipation. He still spent some time, however, in study, and his intellectual powers continued to increase. In his nineteenth year, he happened upon Cicero's "Hortensius," and the dignity and import- ance of philosophy stirred within him higher thought and aspiration. While groping blindly for the truth, he was drawn into the Manichean faith; 158 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN but after several years of adherence to this belief, was finally convinced that it was a mere sham. Through all the vicissitudes of his unworthy life, Monica clung to her son, never ceasing to pray for him, and never doubting that his feet would finally be led into paths of truth and rectitude. Learning of the arrival in Thagaste of a vener- able bishop, Monica hastened to consult him with regard to the course which she should pursue. With tears she told of her son's sinful life, and especially of his recent wandering into heresy. "Let him alone," was the advice of the bishop; "only pray fervently for him." Not satisfied with this advice, Monica, weeping bitterly, sought further counsel. The bishop then described his own life, which in a way was similar to that of Augustine, and told how he himself had been brought into the light through continued study. Finally, he exclaimed, "Go your way; it is impossible that the son of such tears should perish !" These prophetic words seemed to bring joy and comfort to the mother-heart, and she accepted them, as if a voice from heaven had spoken. After several years' residence in Carthage, Augustine decided to visit Rome, where he might have greater advantages, both to pursue his studies and to continue teaching. To this, Monica was MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 159 bitterly opposed, rightly judging that he would be thus further removed from her, and that the slight influence which she had hitherto exerted over him would be entirely removed. Augustine was obdurate, and finally resorted to a plan of decep- tion by which he evaded her and departed. He had promised not to leave Africa, but meantime secretly made preparation to do so. A friend was to embark, and Augustine asked permission to accompany him to the shore, reiterating that he had no intention of sailing. Monica, however, was apprehensive, and accompanied them to the vessel. It was late afternoon when they reached the harbor, and on account of a high wind the ves- sel did not sail at the appointed hour. Augustine and his friend paced the shore, and Monica, grow- ing weary, finally retired to a small chapel near-by, where she passed the long hours in prayer and tears. During the night, the wind changed, and the boat set sail for Italy. In spite of the many promises that he would not go, Augustine carried out his original intention, and as the shore faded from sight he could see in the distance the little chapel where his devoted mother knelt in prayer, ignorant of his departure. When morning came, and Monica found that Augustine had proved faithless to his word, she 160 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN was wild with grief, and attempted to secure pas- sage on another boat in order to follow him; but on calmer thought decided to return to her home in Thagaste, where, says Saint Augustine, "until the day of my conversion, she shed those floods of tears with which she daily watered the spot where she prayed for me." The thought of thus having cruelly deceived his mother, and thereby causing her more poignant pain than the act of leaving openly against her wishes would have occasioned, was ever afterward a source of remorseful grief to Augustine; and the sting of deception remained always a bitter memory, though he tried by con- fession and by various ways to make full atone- ment. Augustine went first to Rome, and then to Milan, wandering meanwhile "through the labyrinth of carnal pleasures, Manichean mock-wisdom, aca- demic skepticism, and Platonic idealism." Alter- nately studying and teaching, his mind, though dulled by dissipation, continued to develop and expand, and he was regarded as a young man of brilliant parts. During his residence in Rome, Augustine suffered a severe illness from fever, but gradually was restored to health. This recovery, he afterward writes, was in order that he might "live for God." On his renouncing the Manichean MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 161 faith, Monica's hopes gained encouragement that her son might now become a Christian, and to this end she prayed more earnestly night and day. A year after Augustine's departure for Rome, Monica resolved to join him there, and on arriving found he had left for Milan. She continued her journey to that place, and rejoiced to be again with the son in whom centered her entire life. Endowed with unusual mental gifts, Monica fre- quently took part in conferences regarding religious, scientific, and philosophical questions, in which Augustine and various learned men were participants. Her keenness of intellect, ready speech, and depth of knowledge, made a profound impression on all who heard her, and she was regarded as a woman of remarkable learning. Augustine was now about the age of thirty, and had reached the darkest period of his life. The terrible gloom of despair was settling over him; and he was approaching a crisis which would mean the final shaping of his eternal life. Monica, at length, sought counsel with the noted Saint Ambrose of Milan, and it was under his teaching and admo- nition that Augustine was gradually led into a knowledge of the truth. At the age of thirty-three, the sinful life of the past was renounced, and Augustine was baptized 162 MOTHERS OK GREAT MEN by Saint Ambrose. Varied influences brought about this changed life — the sermons of Ambrose, the biography of Saint Anthony, the Epistles of Paul; but no one can deny that, above all other means, the tears and prayers of the faithful mother were most effective. Through the long and weary years when Augustine seemed only to be plunging deeper and deeper into a life of shame and degradation, and when prayer itself seemed vain, Monica suffered not her faith to weaken, but continued in earnest supplication to God, and in solemn argu- ment with her son. Entering at length into the light of the Christian faith, he utters that immortal sentence, "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee." In the "Confessions of Augustine," written in humility and deepest penitence, he has reared to his mother a lasting memorial. Many beautiful tributes are paid to her Christian character, and reference made to her loftiness of mind, admirable characteristics, and "praiseworthy habits." In re- gard to his own wayward course, he says, she wept to God in his behalf "more than most mothers are wont to weep the bodily deaths of their chil- dren." Adding, "For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from Thee, and Thou heardst her, O Lord." MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 163 While on her homeward journey, shortly after the conversion of Augustine, Monica fell ill with fever. Her life-work had now been accomplished, and having seen her beloved son accept the Chris- tian faith, she met death calmly and without the desire to live longer. At Ostia, near the mouth of the Tiber, Monica passed away, on the ninth day of her illness, having reached the age of fifty-six years. Augustine alludes to a conversation, held with her shortly before her death, in regard to the kingdom of heaven, and speaks of her words as be- ing most precious to him. He endeavored to mourn her without tears, deeming it not fitting in respect to weep for one who had died so happily, and in such confidence of eternal life ; but on the day fol- lowing that of her death, he arose in the early morning feeling most keenly his loss ; and "I let go my tears," he says, "which I had kept in before, that they might flow as much as they pleased, and found rest to my soul in weeping for her who so long had wept for me." Just as the yearnings of her heart were realized, the mother was claimed by death, caused, it is thought, by the overpowering effect of the great joy experienced on account of her son's conversion. By the grace of God, the erring Augustine be- came "an incalculable blessing to the whole Chris- v 164 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN tian world, and brought even the sins and errors of his youth into the service of the truth." Throughout a long life he wrote and preached with marked influence and power. The character and works of Augustine are studied as among the most notable and profound of all ages; and he is recog- nized as one of the foundation stones of the Protestant Church. To the touching devotion and unceasing prayers of his mother, Monica, Augustine attributes the wonderful change which came into his life, by which he was brought from degradation and despair into ways of righteousness and peace. As the names of mother and son are closely united in the vicissitudes of life, so likewise in death are they linked together, in union immortal, indis- soluble. VI GLIMPSES OF THE MOTHERS OF MANY GREAT MEN FROM time immemorial, the maternal in- fluence has been a controlling force in the world's history. The holy-hearted Hannah may well be given first place in the list of model mothers ; and inscribed beneath her name the dedi- cation to God of her infant son, Samuel: "For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him, there- fore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord."* Only once is the evil withdrawn from the life of Christ during the thirty years when he dwelt apart from the world under the guidance of His mother's *When Martin Luther for the first time discovered the Bible, in the dark alcove of the library at Erfurt, he turned it open at the story of Hannah and Samuel. He was enraptured with his find, and with that great story — a story of motherhood — for he had supposed, theretofore, the whole Bible to consist only of the Gospels and the Epistles, which he had heard read at Mass. "Oh, God," he murmured, "could I have one of these books, I would ask no other worldly treasure." In recounting this incident, D'Aubigne, in his History of the Reformation, naively remarks, "The Reformation lay hid in that Bible." 166 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN eye. But can it be doubted that much of the strength and peace and inner calm which were so abundantly His, came to Him during those days spent in the lowly home in Nazareth? Though the silence of the centuries reveals little concerning the mother, who, content to dwell in the sanctity of the home, aloof from the world's tumult, has sent forth her sons, strong and ready for the duties of life, there may however be found occasional glimpses which serve to portray the immeasurable influence of motherhood. Some- times it is the son speaking; but most often it is the life of the son, which expresses more eloquently than by power of language the worth of a mother's devoted love, her watchful care, and unparalleled self-abnegation. Brief though these glimpses be into the charac- ters of women whose sons have acquired fame, they serve to give deeper insight into the lives of their sons — and to explain, as it were, why certain men have risen from the ranks of the common people to be numbered with the world's immortals. Anthusa, mother of Chrysostom, "the golden- mouthed," was a pious woman, wholly devoted to her son, who grew up under her loving instructions into an earnest, gentle, and serious youth. He MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 167 passed through none of the wild, dark struggles which left an ineffaceable impress on the soul of Augustine, and which gave perhaps a too somber tone to his theology. Chrysostom was first of all a student; but with expanding powers of intellect he caught the attention of the civilized world by his wonderful power of oratory, and has left written works which are esteemed superior to everything of like kind in ancient Christian litera- ture. To the precepts of his mother, and to her training in early life, are traceable the gifts and traits which distinguished his life. Of Alexander the Great it is said : "Like almost all men remarkable for either good or evil, Alex- ander inherited from his mother his most notable qualities — his courage, his intellectual activity, and an ambition indifferent to any means that made for his own end. Fearless in her life, she fearlessly met death with a courage worthy of her rank and domineering character, when her hour of retribu- tion came ; and Alexander is incomprehensible till we recognize him as rising from the womb of Olympia." Jeanne LeFranc Calvin, mother of John Calvin, was noted for her great piety ; and also for her gift 168 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN of discretion, which is at all times to be esteemed as a virtue of untold worth. In addition to the gifts — both mental and spiritual — which she possessed in marked degree, great personal beauty added to her charm and attractiveness. From her example, and from her teachings, John Calvin drew much of the inspiration and stability of char- acter which made his career so notable. Ann Cooke Bacon, mother of Sir Francis Bacon, was distinguished both as a linguist and as a the- ologian. She corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewell; and so well versed was she in Latin that she translated his Apologia with such a degree of correctness that neither he nor Archbishop Parker could suggest a single alteration. In his adopted Fatherland, the memory of Wil- liam the Silent is still passionately cherished. The traits of character which so endeared him to the people of Holland, were transmitted from his mother, Juliana of Stollberg, from whom, history records, he inherited his noblest gifts. David Hume, historian, poet, philosopher, but withal a skeptic, stated that the only argument for Christianity which was to him unanswerable was the beautiful and holy life of his mother. MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 169 Benjamin West in early childhood displayed much artistic talent. Easily discouraged, however, and subject to moods of depression, it was only by reason of the constant encouragement and stimu- lating counsel of his mother that he faced bravely, and overcame, the difficulties which beset his way. In later years, when his reputation as an artist was established, he frequently said, "My mother's kiss made me a painter!" Said Richard Cecil : "I tried to be a skeptic when a young man, but my mother's life was too much for me." Katharina Elizabeth Textor Goethe, the mother of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, was of a singularly bright and happy disposition. Married at the age of seventeen to a man twenty-one years her senior, she was in fact more nearly of an age with her children than her husband; and through her com- panionship with them kept their childhood sunny and sweet in a home which would perhaps have otherwise been too severely disciplined by the stern father. The adoration of Goethe's mother for her talented son savored almost of idolatry; and he in turn was devotedly attached to her. "She furnished him with the traits of character of Elizabeth in 170 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Goetz Berlichinzen, the amiable housewife in Her- mann und Dorothea, and other attractive charac- ters; her letters well justify the respect and affec- tion with which Goethe always regarded her, and account for many of the best qualities in her son's intellectual endowment. The letters of Frau Goethe to her son, and to others of her relatives and friends, possess decided literary merit. Sparkling at times with irrepressible good-humor — again, tenderly sympathetic in tone, or reverently solemn as she discusses serious ques- tions, they portray throughout, her keenness of in- tellect and optimistic spirit. To an intimate friend, Frau von Stern, she gave a most excellent char- acterization of herself : "I love my fellow-beings dearly, and that I know is appreciated by young and old alike; I live in the most unpretentious way, which also pleases all the sons and daughters of Eve. Nor do I set myself up as anyone's moral critic, but rather seek to discover the good side of people, leaving the bad to Him who created us, and who best knows how to smooth off the rough cor- ners ; and I find that this mode of life keeps me hale, and happy, and contented." In a letter to Dr. Zim- merman, who had been the physician of her daughter, she wrote in her cheery manner in refer- ence to his own ailment, hypochrondria, which was MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 171 so repugnant to her that she averred that she could not bring herself to write the word: "Feb. 16th, 1776. My Dear Doctor: — Your kind letter gave me much pleasure in part. But — what I wrote you in jest seems to be not entirely without foundation. You are not well. Believe me, I am seriously alarmed about you. Good heavens ! How comes such an excellent, clever, delightful, splendid, dear, good man by this con- founded illness ? I know a lot of rascals who ought to be sick, for they are not of the slightest use to the world whether they are asleep or awake. Dear Friend ! will you take the advice of a woman, who it is true does not know the first thing about the science of medicine, but who has had the opportunity of close association with many people who were similarly affected? I have always found that a change of surroundings was the most effective cure. It is not necessary to travel two hundred miles; but you must get out of your four walls, into the open air, out into the country, among people you like. Then hurl all his black and gloomy thoughts right back at the devil !" Many years after the death of Frau Goethe, Zeller having asked to see one of her letters, Goethe sent him one, and accompanied it with these words : "Herewith I enclose one of my mother's letters, in accordance with your wish. In it, in every line she wrote, there is expressed the character of a woman who had a strong and hearty life in the Old Testament fear of the Lord, and full of trust 172 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN in the unchangeable God of the family, and of the nation." L,etizia Romolino Bonaparte, mother of Napoleon Bonaparte, was high-spirited and energetic, possess- ing great strength of character; and was likewise endowed with unusual personal beauty. She fol- lowed the changing fortune of her soldier-husband as his camp was moved from place to place; and it is not surprising that her son, nurtured amid such environment, should choose a soldier's life. As a child, Napoleon was of an imperious temperament, and it was with difficulty that his mother finally gained the ascendancy over him. In the heyday of his glory, he said: "It is to my mother and her good principles that I owe my fortune and all the good that I have ever done." When his brilliant career suddenly terminated, and he was consigned to prison on lonely St. Helena, she begged to be allowed to share his confinement with him; but to this he would not consent. Maria Madelena Beethoven, mother of L,udwig von Beethoven, was a woman of much depth of feeling and refinement. Condemned to a life of great unhappiness by a worthless and dissolute husband, she devoted herself to the education of MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 173 her son Ludwig, in whom centered all her hopes and aspirations. She was especially ambitious for his musical advancement, and continually held up be- fore him his grandfather, from whom the boy in- herited his remarkable talent. Of his mother, Bee- thoven wrote: "She has been to me a good and loving mother, and my best friend." Lord Macaulay paid tribute to his mother in the following words addressed to the young: Young people, look in those eyes, listen to that dear voice, and notice the feeling of even a touch that is be- stowed upon you by that gentle hand. Make much of it while yet you have that most precious of all gifts, a loving mother. «Read the unfathomable love of those eyes; the kind anxiety of that tone and look, however slight your pain. In after life you may have friends ; but never will you have again the inexpressible love and gentleness lavished upon you which none but a mother bestows. Often do I sigh in my struggles with the hard uncaring world, for the deep, sweet scrutiny I felt when of an even- ing, resting in her bosom, I listened to some quiet tale, suitable to my age, read in her tender, untiring voice. Never can I forget her sweet glances cast upon me when I appeared asleep; never her kiss of peace at night. Years have passed since we laid her beside my father in the cold churchyard, yet still her voice whispers from the grave, and her eye watches over me as I visit spots long since loved by her memory." 174 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Of the lonely poet, William Cowper, it is said: "His mother was a Donne, of the race of the poet, and descended by several lines from Henry III. When Cowper was six years old, his mother died; and seldom has a child lost more, even in a mother. Fifty years after her death he still thinks of her, he says, with love and tenderness every day. Late in his life, his cousin, Mrs. Anne Bodham, recalled herself to his remembrance by sending him his mother's picture. 'Every creature,' he writes, 'that has any affinity to my mother is dear to me, and you, the daughter of her brother, are but one remove distant from her; I love you therefore, and I love you much, both for her sake and for your own. The world could not have furnished you with a present so acceptable to me as the picture which you have so kindly sent me. I received it the night before last, and received it with a trepi- dation of nerves and spirits somewhat akin to what I should have felt had its dear original presented herself to my embraces. I kissed it, and hung it where it is the last object which I see at night, and the first on which I open my eyes in the morning. She died when I completed my sixth year; yet I remember her well, and am ocular witness of the great fidelity of the copy. I remember, too, a multitude of the maternal tendernesses which I MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 175 received from her, and which have endeared her memory beyond expression. There is in me, I be- lieve, more of the Donne than Cowper, and though I love all of both names, and have a thousand reasons to love those of my own name, yet I feel the bond of nature draw me vehemently to your side.' As Cowper never married, there was noth- ing to take the place in his heart which had been left vacant by his mother." "My mother ! when I learned that thou wast dead, Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed? Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unfelt, a kiss ; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss — Ah, that maternal smile ! it answers — Yes. I heard the bell toll'd on thy burial day, I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, And, turning from my nursery window, drew A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu ! But was it such? It was. Where thou art gone, Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more ! Thy maidens grieved themselves, at my concern, Oft gave me promise of thy quick return. What ardently I wished I long believed, And disappointed still, was still deceived; By expectation every day beguiled, Dupe of tomorrow, even from a child. 176 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN Thus many a sad tomorrow came and went, Till, all my stock of infant sorrows spent, I learned at last submission to my lot, But though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot." Although a man may not be a Christian himself, yet it is universally true that he desires that his children be brought up in a Christian atmosphere. When the hero of Ticonderoga (Ethan Allen) lay dying, he was asked by his child whether he should follow his own leanings toward atheism, or the religious principles of his mother. The answer came prompt and decisive, "Follow the principles of your mother." This unwillingness to trust the eternal destiny of his children to the uncertain vagaries of his own belief is a striking proof of the real power and truth of the religion of Jesus Christ. Of the Presidents of the United States, besides General Washington, there have been several who have accorded their highest success in life to a mother's training and influence. To Abigail Adams belongs the unique distinc- tion of being the wife of one President, and the grandmother of another — a distinction unique in all the history of the American nation. Her letters, edited by her grandson, are marvels of wisdom and MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 177 virtue, and full of inspiration and direction toward noble aims. Thirty-five years after the death of Andrew Jackson's mother, he repeated at a dinner given in his honor, the following words of his mother: "Andrew, if I should not see you again, I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you. In this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest, and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you. To forget an obligation, or to be un- grateful for a kindness, is a base crime — not merely a fault or a sin, but an actual crime. Men guilty of it, sooner or later must suffer the penalty. "In personal conduct be always polite, but never obsequious. No one will respect you more than you esteem yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition, but sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit at law for assault or battery, or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man. 178 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN "Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If ever you have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed." A visitor to the White House once commended James K. Polk for his respect for the Sabbath day, adding that it was highly gratifying to the religious sentiment of the country. President Polk replied, "I was taught by a pious mother to fear God, and keep his commandments, and I trust that no cares of a government of my own will ever tempt me to forget what I owe to the government of God." Abraham Lincoln, whose mother died when he was a mere lad, always attributed to her his best traits of character, and the development of the highest good in his stern nature. The mother of James A. Garfield was left a widow with four little children, in what is known as the "Wilderness," in the State of Ohio. Frontier life was one of poverty, and the Garfield home only a log cabin ; but the heroic young mother faced the struggle, and reared her family in the midst of great privation. She lived to see the youngest of her children — James, who was left fatherless at MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 179 two years of age, at three years was introduced to his books, and when ten years of age was assisting in the manual labor of the farm — raised to the highest position within the gift of his country. In young manhood, while attending Williams College, where he later graduated with high honor, James Garfield daily read a chapter in the Bible — his mother by previous arrangement reading the same chapter at the same hour — thus keeping aflame her teaching and the memory of her love. a* Alexander Dumas sprang into fame in the early part of the nineteenth century as a writer of plays which the leading French critic of the day termed "A great historical achievement." On the night when his first great drama was receiving the plaudits of an enthusiastic audience, Dumas was kneeling by the bedside of his dying mother, only withdrawing occasionally to hear how the play was being received. His deep devotion to her was stronger than a desire for the world's acclaim and commendation. The mother of John Louis Rudolph Agassiz, having lost four children prior to his birth, watched over her little son with much solicitude. She 180 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN seemed to understand him thoroughly, and to know that his love of nature and of all living things was an intellectual tendency, and not simply a child's inclination to make friends and playmates of the things about him. In later life, it was the sympathy of the mother which gave to the lad the key to his chosen profession. Throughout his life she re- mained his most intimate friend and companion. Her counsel to him was, "To do all the good you can to your fellow-beings, to have a pure conscience, to gain an honorable livelihood, to procure for yourself 'by work a little ease, to make those around you happy — that is true happiness ; all the rest but mere accessories and chimeras. In the mother of Alfred Tennyson, one finds a gentle and most imaginative woman. This last named quality descended in fullest measure upon her gifted son, who inherited also her sunny dis- position and serenity of temperament, Leah Salomon-Bartholdy Mendelssohn, mother of Felix Mendelssohn, was a woman of a diversity of talents, to whom her sons and daughters owed much of their love for the artistic and beautiful, Felix Mendelssohn has been accounted "fortunate" in possessing a mother of such exceptional ability, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 181 and of marked depth of feeling. From her he received his first music lessons, which lasted only five minutes. Gradually the time was prolonged; and as he practiced, she sat near the piano, busy with her knitting. In addition to his musical education, Mrs. Mendelssohn was careful to see that her son obtained a good general education, knowing that his happiness would be greatly increased by an interest in diverse things, thus preventing the pos- sibility of ennui and mental stagnation. Chorley, the well-known musical critic of that period, says of her: "There have lived few women more honorably distinguished than she was by acquirement, by that perfect propriety which Horace Walpole has justly called the grace of declining life; by a cordial hospitality, the sincerity of which there was no mistaking; by an easy humor in con- versation, and a knowledge of men and books. She possessed a fund of intelligence, a habit of mind bred amongst constant intercourse with the best things of all countries, which belonged to herself and remained with her to the last." The mother of Robert Moffatt possessed more than the usual piety of a Scotch woman of the time in which she lived. In spite of very limited oppor- 182 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN tunities, she was exceedingly intelligent, and kept herself well-informed regarding the great move- ments of the world; especially did she take a lively interest in spiritual affairs, and missionary inter- prises, which were at that date only in their in- fancy. Seated about the open fire on long winter evenings, Robert Moffatt, knitting with his brothers and sisters, first heard from his mother's lips that there were heathen in the world, and of efforts be- ing made to send them the Gospel. The impression made upon him in childhood, of the need of foreign missionaries, influenced the life of Robert Moffatt to such an extent that he became the pioneer of modern missionary work in South Africa, giving fifty-four years of intense service to the work. It was by his influence that David Livingstone (after- ward his son-in-law) was led to give his life to Africa. Thomas Henry Huxley, referring to his mother, says : "Physically and mentally I am the son of my mother so completely — even down to peculiar move- ments of the hands, which made their appearance in me as I reached the age she had when I noticed them — that I can hardly find a trace of my father in myself except an inborn faculty for drawing, which unfortunately in my case has never been cul- MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 183 tivated, a hot temper, and that amount of tenacity of purpose which unfriendly observers sometimes call obstinacy." Emerson, whose mastery of the English language has been acknowledged to be unsurpassed, states that his style was derived in large measure from the constant reading and study of the Bible which was required of him by his mother. Of her, Dr. Froth- ingham writes: "Ruth Haskins, the wife of Wil- liam, and mother of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was a woman of great patience and fortitude, of the serenest trust in God, of a discerning spirit, and a most courteous bearing; one who knew how to guide the affairs of her own house, as long as she was responsible for that, with the sweetest author- ity, and knew how to give the least trouble and the greatest happiness after that authority was resigned. Both her mind and her character were of a superior order, and they set their stamp upon manners of peculiar softness and natural grace, and quiet dig- nity. Her sensible and kindly speech was always as good as the best instruction; her smile, though it was ever ready, was a reward." Lord Wolseley touched the keynote of many a soldier's life when he said: "Poets imagine that i&4 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN men say to themselves the night after a battle, 'What will they say in England?' I believe that by far the largest portion of men think of their mother, and of her valued love for them. At least it has been so all my life." James Whistler has put upon canvas the likeness of his mother ; and the serenity and calmness, so well portrayed, present a faithful presentation of peace- ful declining days. In "Margaret Ogilvy," J. M. Barrie gives a pen- portrait of his mother, who, like the typical Scotch housewife, finds her highest happiness in the busy, sheltered home-life. Her keen interest and pardon- able pride in her son's literary talent cannot be sup- pressed, in spite of the diligent effort on her part to assume indifference. Admiral Farragut, in his Journal, tells of the wonderful bravery of his mother in the early days of the settlers in America. On one occasion, when she was left at home with only her little children, a party of Indians came to the house, which was located in an isolated section of country, and sought admission. With a heroism born of necessity, Mrs. Farragut barred the door in the most effectual man- ner she could devise, and sent all the trembling little MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 185 ones up into the loft, while she remained to guard the entrance with an ax. The savages attempted to parley with her, but she kept them at bay until they finally decided to depart, leaving her and her family unmolested. This act of heroism on the part of a woman, and that woman his own mother, ever after- ward stamped itself upon the life and character of her son, who in later years was to take an impor- tant part in the naval affairs of the country. Seldom has the devotion of a son been more admirably portrayed than by Robert E. Lee for the invalid mother to whom he states that he owed everything. Left fatherless at the age of eleven, Robert, in the absence of older brothers and sis- ters, relieved his mother of many of the duties of the home, and also of outside cares, as far as it was within his power to do so. As housekeeper, he carried the keys and did the marketing, attended to the horses, and accompanied his mother for a drive each day. When leaving home to take up his studies at West Point, his mother declared that she could not live without him ; and it was only a short time after his graduation that he was summoned to her deathbed. Among the many virtues which this excellent mother instilled into her son were self-denial and 186 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN self-control, both of which he possessed to a marked degree. Dwight L. Moody, America's greatest evangelist, ascribed to his mother the shaping of his life for effective service in the gospel ministry. His deep love for her, his admiration for her spirit of hero- ism, and appreciation of her struggle to rear nine children in spite of abject poverty, caused him to love her with a devotion little short of idolatry. Once, while holding services in Cambridge, Eng- land, where the students seemed utterly irrespon- sive, Moody bethought himself of his own mother, and of a mother's wonderful influence. He called a prayer-meeting for mothers one afternoon, in Alexander Hall, to pray for university men as "some mother's son." Three hundred mothers at- tended, and Moody often afterwards referred to this meeting as unique in his long service. Mother after mother, amid her tears, raised fervent pray- ers to heaven. That night the tide turned, and during the remainder of the meeting scores of young men were brought into the kingdom of God. At his mother's funeral, standing by her coffin, and holding in his hands the old family Bible and well-worn book of devotions, Moody, in his char- acteristically simple but beautifully impressive way, MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN 187 paid eloquent tribute to the worth of a good mother, giving as example the life of his own mother, whose children's highest privilege he deemed was now to arise and call her blessed. The biographer of Ethelbert Nevin says : "Cer- tainly rarely between mother and son have the parental ties persisted so intensely. More truly than of most sons may it be said that his life was a prolongation — an admiration of hers. He thought of her always ; he lived in her ; they were never disassociated; and only by a little while did he survive her death." Never was there a stronger bond of affection be- tween mother and son than between Thomas Alva Edison and his mother. Speaking of her once after her death, he said: "I did not have my mother very long, but in that length of time she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her apprecia- tion and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should very likely never have become an inventor. ) You see my mother was a Canadian girl, who used to teach in Nova Scotia. She be- lieved that many of the boys who turned out badly 188 MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN by the time they grew to manhood, would have been valuable citizens if they had been handled in the right way when they were young. Her years of experience as a school teacher taught her many things about human nature, and especially about boys. After she married my father, and became a mother, she applied that same theory to me. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of differ- ent mental caliber I should have probably turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness, were potent powers to keep me in the right path."